According to the ONCE Foundation, dedicated to the inclusion of people with disabilities, an estimated 35 million people have given up on travelling due to lack of accessibility.
Consequently, by not providing accessible infrastructure, accommodation, and adapted offers, the European travel industry is failing to cash in on an estimated €142 billion.
So, how can we do better? Let’s start with the fundamentals:
- State of Accessibility
Where do we stand today?
- Taking the lead
Need some practical advice?
- Fulfilling special needs
How can Amadeus help you, help more?
State of Accessibility
The Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization hits the nail on the head. Naturally, then, Amadeus sent representatives to the European day of Persons with Disabilities conference in Brussels.
One of the key debates at the conference revolved around the EU European Accessibility Act proposal. The act would make many products and services more accessible for people with disabilities. The travel industry included.
Taking the lead
Making travel more accessible to people with a disability is a worthy cause. So, as a travel agent, where do you begin? Viaje 2000, a Spanish travel agency, started developing the disabled market a while ago. We asked Alejandro Esperón, Director of ‘Turismo para Todos’, how his organizations became a pioneer.
What special services do you offer?
We offer a wide range of travel services specifically for people with disabilities. In order to verify and ensure that our customers will not face accessibility challenges, our staff visits each hotel or leisure establishment to carry out rigorous checks of their facilities.
What practical advice would you give to companies?
Over 20% of Viajes 2000’s staff are people with disabilities. I can tell you that they are highly motivated and committed to making tourism more accessible for everyone. Hiring them is a win-win situation.
What training was required of your staff to fulfil special needs?
Our experience includes going to the hotel, sitting in a wheelchair and moving around the grounds. Or putting on a mask that will not let us see, to really understand why a misplaced extinguisher can be a problem for a blind person.
Fulfilling special needs
How Amadeus transformed accessibility into a business opportunity? Svend Leirvaag, our VP of Industry Affairs explains:
“We develop solutions that enable the integration of more accurate and relevant content on accessible tourism. Emphasising accessibility through design improves the overall user experience: Amadeus e-Retail, one of our major booking engines for airlines, has been made accessible to –AA level (WCAG 2.0 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), and 38 airlines have already implemented the new, accessible solution.”
Open up your travel business
Do you want to make travel more accessible to people with a disability? Start uncovering untapped markets.