Despite more than two billion people living with disabilities globally, a recent study led by Amadeus has revealed the lacking investment by both the travel industry and public sector to cater to those with disabilities.
The study aimed to outline how greater personalisation, universal standards in the provision of services, more effective communication and increased collaboration between public and private sectors can drive a more accessible travel industry of the future.
According to the report “Voyage of discovery: Working towards inclusive and accessible travel for all”, one of the biggest barriers to accessible travel remains inaccurate or incomplete information being available, coupled with a lack of skilled customer service.
The report also shows that travellers with accessibility needs increasingly now expect these to be met as part of the mainstream service and at no extra cost.
The role of technology in accessible travel is becoming more important, with specific developments such as voice recognition starting to be seen as commonplace.
The key takeaways from the study were:
- The overall travel experience and how this is adapted to different needs is rated at just 6.2 out of 10
- Travelling by plane is the preferred transportation method (35.9 percent of respondents)
- The least satisfactory areas with regards to accessibility are those related to railway stations (4.9 out of 10) and the most satisfactory area is accommodation (6.2 out of 10)
It highlights that transitioning to an accessible travel-friendly environment for all will require the improvement of many aspects.
These include more effective communication that facilitates access to relevant information on accessibility, and a more responsive service with properly trained staff who know how to address people with different access needs.
Amadeus Vice President Corporate Strategy Alex Luzárraga said, “Improving accessibility in travel means enhancing usability for all customers.
“Lifting barriers to travel, personalising the travel offer, using technology to further facilitate travellers’ experiences and creating more accessible infrastructure where people can navigate autonomously will benefit everybody.”
Overall, the research recommends further collaboration between the private and public sectors to meet the expectations of travellers with accessibility needs.
The study was developed in the US, the EU and India, and included some 800 interviews with travellers with accessibility needs as well as industry experts, private-public sector representatives and international institutions.
Amadeus Senior Vice President of General Counsel & Corporate Secretary Tomas López Fernebrand said, “We are committed to sustainability in the travel industry.”
“Indeed, we are proud to have been recognised by the DJSI as world leaders of our sector. For a sustainable travel industry, accessibility is a key element, and a powerful tool to broaden people’s access to travel.”
“Technology has a key role to play as an enabler in this. It is also necessary to work together with consumers and the private and public sectors to consolidate industry standards that ensure accessible travel for all becomes a reality,” he added.