Disability champion calls for travel standards

The UK government’s disability champion has called on the travel industry to work together to provide consistent service for holidaymakers with accessibility needs.

Chris Veitch, who is due to speak at Abta’s Accessible Travel and Tourism Seminar next month, said it was critical the industry recognised such clients.

He said: “This is about culture change. It needs chief executives and board members to champion it, as well as everyone in the company. Being inclusive can help businesses make money.”

Firms are said to lose about £2 billion a month by ignoring the needs of disabled people, according to disability specialist organisation Purple.

There are estimated to be about 13.3 million disabled people in the UK and the ‘purple pound’ – the amount of money spent by disabled people – is estimated to be £249 billion a year.

Clients need consistent levels of good service and help from agents and operators, said Veitch, as well as an increased understanding of their needs.

“It requires the industry to come together to do more as a body and create standards,” he said.

“They need to work in unison to deliver something consistent across the customer experience so clients can expect to see certain information and expect a certain level of help.

“No two wheelchair users are alike and agents and operators need to be able to be able to identify what key pieces of information people need
and what to do.”

Veitch warned against pigeon-holing disabled people and failing to recognise that many older clients have accessibility needs.

“This is not a specialist market,” he said. “There is money to be had, but this becomes irrelevant if you don’t have customer service. An ageing population will go to where their needs are met.”

Accessible travel and tourism seminar

When: May 8
Where: Abta, 30 Park Street, London, SE1 9EQ
Cost: Abta member/partner rate: £229 plus VAT
Non-member: £349 plus VAT

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