Accessible travel, a win-win for all

Lower costs for flying, budget holidays, and the ubiquity of the internet have contributed to more choices, greater accessibility and unprecedented demand. Ernesto Sanchez Beaumont, Managing Director of Amadeus Gulf shares insights on accessible travel with TRAVTALK.

What do people with special accessibility needs seek while planning a trip?
While booking a holiday is as easy for many people as clicking through a website, the industry has yet to make the process as seamless or simple for the millions of people who have accessibility needs. People with accessibility needs want to travel as much as anyone. They also want the same level of independence when it comes to planning, searching, booking and purchasing their travel. It goes without saying that they also want a wider variety of personalised travel services and destinations.

People with accessibility needs represent a large portion of society – one estimate suggests that a fifth of the world’s population will have some accessibility need by 2050. In countries like the UAE, the government has already championed the needs of ‘people of determination’ as a priority for both public and private sector institutions. Including them is not only a step towards social equality, but an imperative if travel industry players want to remain relevant in a changing market, as they represent a relatively untapped source of income. So, not only is increasing accessibility the right thing to do morally, but it makes good business sense, too. And that, however you look at it, is a win-win situation for everyone.

What are the steps taken by airports and hotels to ensure physical accessibility?
Many airports today have ensured that people who require assistance can easily find or request the facilities and support they need. Hotels are also clear when they are able to accommodate certain accessibility requirements. This is certainly a step in the right direction. It aligns with the facilities pillar of accessible tourism – one of the three that were identified by an Ambrose study in 2015. The other two, Information and Customer Service, require additional work. Inspired by the Ambrose study, Amadeus has identified four key elements that will build the value proposition of the ideal accessible trip. These are effective communication, responsive service, standardised content, and personalised offers.

What can be done to build a more accessible travel industry?
By working together, players within the travel industry can tap into the golden opportunity of increased revenue from what is currently a massively underserved customer segment. The combination of social imperative and economic opportunity provides a unique incentive to build a more accessible travel industry.

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