Travelport launched a global awareness campaign to use the DPNA Special Service Request (SSR) code, which can be used by travel agents to alert airlines when a passenger has an intellectual or developmental disability and needs assistance.
Travelport initiated the campaign for use of the DPNA (Disabled Passenger Needing Assistance) SSR code after it found evidence of exceptionally low use of the code on bookings made through its global distribution system (GDS). Despite registering more than 250 million flight bookings through its GDS globally in 2018 and an estimated 200 million people worldwide having an intellectual disability (2.6 per cent of the global population), the code was used just 4,309 times (approximately 0.0015 per cent of total flight bookings). A poll of 136 travel agents, conducted by Travelport, revealed that just 24 per cent know about the existence of the code.
Linda Ristagno, External Affairs Manager, IATA, said, “We introduced the DPNA SSR code to assist persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are delighted that Travelport has launched this awareness campaign that encourage all our member airlines and travel agents to use this code and all the other IATA disability codes to ensure that the appropriate support to our valued passengers is provided.”
Travelport’s six-month long campaign will reach more than 100,000 travel agents in over 30 countries. It features electronic direct mails (EDMs) as well as ‘sign on alerts’ and graphical ‘prompts’ delivered through the company’s flagship Travelport Smartpoint tool, used by travel agents, among others, to search and book airline seats, hotel rooms and more. The EDMs and ‘sign on alerts’ are being shown to its travel agent partners globally while the ‘prompts’ are activated when a consultant is at the booking stage of a flight to over 30 of the most popular destinations in the world such as London, New York, Sydney and Delhi.
Gordon Wilson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Travelport, said, “Travelport Smartpoint, with all its graphical and prompted capabilities offers the perfect channel to remind travel agents across the world of the existence of this facility, enabling them to work in better partnership with our airline customers in the service of these travellers. We hope this campaign will not only make a difference in the travel industry but act as a catalyst for other organisations to investigate how their industry can better support people with intellectual disabilities.”
The ‘prompts’ are also being shown when any flight is about to be booked to or from the United Arab Emirates, the country hosting the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2019. Travelport has created a campaign webpage (www.travelport.com/travelunified), which provides guidance for travel agents on talking to travellers about intellectual disabilities and associated assistance.