Meet the changemakers: Matthieu Jost from Misterb&b

Dissatisfied with the state of LGBTQ+ travel, in 2014 Jost and his partners created a global travel platform, primarily aimed at gay men. It now has more than 300,000 hosts in 135 countries.Saturday, 17 August 2019

What prompted you to start Misterb&b?
It started with an unpleasant stay in Barcelona: my host wasn’t happy to have two gay men at her door, let alone that we were planning to share a bed. No one should ever have to feel so unwelcome or unaccepted, so I decided to create Misterb&b.

What challenges did you face?
Raising investment for an LGBTQ+ startup was difficult. Because the financial industry in France is very conservative, we had to shift the company to the US, where we were incubated by one of the top three accelerators in the world, 500 Startups. When the time was right, we moved the company back to France — we’re now a team of 60 with offices in Paris, Los Angeles and Lima.

Is the company a community effort?
Our community is our greatest asset, not the rooms or the hotels — it’s people that differentiate us from other players in the tourism industry. Our recent successful crowdfunding campaign proves how much our community believes in us and in the fact that together we can leave the world a better place.

What opportunities has Misterb&b created within the LGBTQ travel sphere?
Our mission has always been to have a positive impact on the global LGBTQ+ community. We started with making them feel safe while travelling, ensuring they have a local connection when discovering a new city. A year ago, we created a programme called Mister for Good: when booking via Misterb&b, you contribute to improving the living conditions of LGBTQ+ people around the world. We donate to different NGOs fighting for the rights of the community, ranging from housing, medical help, education, immigration and youth shelters to advocating for LGBTQ+ rights awareness at the UN.

What could other travel companies do to make LGBTQ+ travel more accessible?
Branding yourself as ‘gay-friendly’ or putting a rainbow flag on a website can’t be enough. LGBTQ+ travellers need to feel a sincere interest, beyond the pursuit of the ‘pink dollar’.

Is Misterb&b available to anyone?
We really think diversity is an asset. We address our services to the LGBTQ+ community, but we’re open to everyone. Our team is made up of LGBTQ+ and straight people alike — this is an example of how these communities can coexist, share and thrive by being together.

Published in the Earth Collection, distributed with the September 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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