Accessible Travel: Changing the Mindset
Accessible travel is growing, driven by changing consumer demographics with a fifth of the world having access needs. The regulation, tools and consumer attitudes are now in place to lead to a paradigm shift to deliver seamless travel experiences for all. It is time for destinations and travel brands to embrace principles such as universal design to deliver inclusive travel products and services in a thoughtful way that deliver sustainable results.
There are several definitions of accessible tourism, but the most important point is that it looks beyond the number of people with physical and intellectual disabilities, to encompass all those with mobility needs – including seniors and babies – across the human lifecycle. It is vitally important to note that not every disability is visible.
In 2019, 18% of the world’s population was taken up by 701. 5 million people aged 65+ and 676 million children aged between 0-4 years. By 2030, the proportion of 65+ and the very young will increase to 20% – a fifth of the world, notwithstanding the one billion people living with a disability across all age groups.
The accessible agenda is gaining momentum, in the same way that we saw with sustainability and the anti-plastics movement that has taken hold. It will not be long until we reach the tipping point where consumers will demand inclusion for all.
Accessible tourism is more than wheelchair users, it is about making everyone feel welcome regardless of age or ability in terms of customer service, facilities and information provision.
Embracing universal design leads to thinking about how all your consumers engage with your product or service which is a no-brainer for sustainable growth.
Targeting the accessible market is not just about doing the right thing – it drives repeat visitors, retention, extends seasonality and higher spend per visitor thanks to the multiplier effect. It also meets the needs of multigenerational travel.
Technology is a key driver of change. Great work is being done by social start-ups to hack challenges and find solutions that usher in change and improve quality of life for people with accessible needs.
There are multiple links in the customer journey, and brands and destinations need to ensure to provide seamless experiences for all their customers. How can brands claim to provide personalisation if they are not truly inclusive and cater to everyone’s needs and preferences?
One size does not fit all – thanks to technology, we are moving to a world with a segmentation of one, and potentially 2.3 billion individual trips by 2030. This means that needs should be met in a world of ever greater personalisation for everyone, regardless of age or ability.
Long road ahead
Great strides have been made thanks to a strong legislative framework, start-up funding and grassroots activities, but we are still at the beginning of the journey. Everyone needs to do their bit to make travel sustainable and accessible for transformative change.