Successful case of accessible destination development
MemberJune 14, 2021 at 11:56 am
Hello all, do we have any business cases of successful accessible destination development where the travel sector and related businesses show a measurable positive impact. For example, a remarkable increase of travelers with disabilities, the increase of the visitors in general to the destination mainly due to the improvement of their travel accessibility, the increase of number of people working for accessible tourism or the increase of the income of people working in that field, etc.
When speaking with a DMO or a tourist association or the tourism section of a local government, such business examples are compelling.
OrganizerJune 14, 2021 at 8:50 pm
Hello! That would be great to have, but I do not know of any oranisation who has done an exact monitoring in terms of number of visitors with a disability, the data tends to be rather scattered and difficult to aggregate. ENAT is perhaps doing something in this sense at the moment?
MemberJune 17, 2021 at 11:18 am
Thanks for the comment and sorry for my late response.
Seems like there are no such cases as far as the participants here acknowledge. The appraisal of accessible travel is generally made of the outcome of questionnaires or comments of the stakeholders, and weak in presenting its economic value – the asset value they created or the additional income expected to be generated for a foreseeable future.
I wonder if we can establish a methodology to track and grasp the development of accessible travel with big data utilization or other cheap and non-cumbersome way. With that we can measure and grasp the dynamic changes of the area or worldwide regional comparison. So we probably need to work with tech guys?
MemberJune 17, 2021 at 6:01 pm
Hi, regretfully there is probably no one destination where they can show the ROI or other measurable impact of improved accessibility. A key question is of course ‘Accessible for whom” for wheelchair users or universally accessible? This said there are a number of significant destinations recognised for their great work and commitment to develop Accessible tourism, these are:
In the UK, England Scotland and Wales are all committed to improved accessibility with the UK Government recently stating the ambition to become the most accessible tourism destination in Europe by 2025 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-plan-to-drive-rapid-recovery-of-tourism-sector Objective 5.
VisitEngland offers information and resources to developing accessible destinations https://www.visitbritain.org/developing-accessible-destinations. You may be interested in a VisitEngland ‘Access for All project, with £125,000 funding by the EU which generated £32 million pound incremental spend https://www.visitbritain.org/sites/default/files/vb-corporate/access_for_all_project_roundup_and_results_15.08.16.pdf
A report produced in 2014 by the University of Surrey for the European Commission identified that lack of accessible tourism was costing the economy billions – it stated that the tourism industry across Europe was missing out on up to 142 billion Euros annually https://www.surrey.ac.uk/features/lack-accessible-tourism-costing-economy-billions
Whilst this is an old report I think its findings are probably still relevant with the tourism industry globally missing out on a large and growing market which is effectively all of us.
MemberJune 17, 2021 at 6:49 pm
Thanks for the information. I will go through them.
In Japan, we have only 150KUSD budget allocated for accessible tourism out of 1 billion USD annual national tourism budget. I feel something goes wrong here because the economic impact of investing in this field is not at all understood by the society, bureaucrats and politicians. And even by us as accessible tourism stakeholders, at least in Japan. In any industry, the growth is measured by economic value and the accessible tourism industry is one of them. We should know which part of accessible tourism is making money and which part is not. Then we know which is for private investment and which is subject to social support.
MemberJune 17, 2021 at 7:15 pm
I understand what you say about the growth in any industry is measured by economic value, but the reality for government should also to be the understanding of the social impact and what wider value do you place on that if you make goods and services available more inclusively what is the benefit to individuals and businesses? You can improve the quality of life for local people as well as the enhanced experience of those visiting through improved accessibility.
For me the focus of this whole debate is around the customer experience, do we want all visitors to feel ‘wow’ that was amazing, they really know me, they understand me and they have anticipated my needs, if you don’t take into account personal accessibility requirements you fall short of the high standard of customer service and experience which can potentially be offered to everyone.
Clearly the budget allocated is very small but based on research here in the UK that money would be best directed at Staff training, the number one barrier for disabled people is the lack of welcome they receive, the second is encouraging businesses to provide better information about their offer to cover things which can make a difference for people e.g. an accessibility guide https://www.visitbritain.org/business-advice/make-your-business-accessible/create-accessibility-guide as this is a the 2nd identified barrier for disabled people, the lack of appropriate up to date information about accessibility and lastly promote low cost no cost facilities that can make a difference.
That said, to be effective clearly you would need to be able to monitor the impact of each of these initiatives, but at least you would have a simplified framework around which you could work to understand the impact and difference made through customer service from staff who are trained and better informed (this is probably the biggest element that makes a difference, improved information and facilities made available.
MemberJune 17, 2021 at 7:28 pm
Thanks for the broad view on this subject. Let me think further on the better way of the “measurement”.
MemberJune 17, 2021 at 8:03 pm
If I can help or support you in any way, please let me know, especially if it would be helpful to be directly in touch via email and if you ever wanted to have a chat, I would be more than happy to do so. I was one of a number of Govt Champions appointed by the UK Govt to represent sectors to improve opportunities for disabled people, I represented the Tourism Sector https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-business-champions-to-support-rights-of-disabled-consumers
Also, I do feel that we need to begin to see the agenda primarily through the lens of customer service, this is something which the industry will understand and can relate to, this article might be of interest: https://abtamag.com/2019/09/02/industry-insights-accessible-travel/
OrganizerJune 17, 2021 at 11:18 pm
I totally agree on the need to understand which part of accessible tourism is making money and which prt should be the object of government support or be managed by non profit organisations. When I decided to create an actual for profit company, it was also a political statement as in « this is not a charity project for the disabled people » but a « this is a business catering for clients that need additional services or information before and while on holiday » . But to tell the truth, I did not find any data that could really help in prospecting sales or help building a business plan or specific products, it was all trial and error, with the error being the most frequent element. Another issue is how to reach your target public when there are no real statistics or case studies on the travel habits of people with different abilities but also totally different taste, age, needs, economic situation. Therefore doing marketing becomes very complex and you rely on intuition and observation of a limited public that is very active on social media and Facebook groups. But you cannot structure a marketing plan based on a few influencers as they are clearly exceptional people that have travel as almost a job. I think we don’t need the tech guys yet, as you wrote earlier, because we have limited data to draw from. Thanks Chris I will check out the links you sent and Kuniyasu I am in if I can help in anyway, this is a topic that now that we can hope to restart working becomes more and more important, especially when raising capital. I have a hard time trying to raise money from VCs with the argumentation that 1 on 3 people have some kind of disability or impairment, it’s not a useful concept In this case but it’s what everyone else puts forward for lack of something more specific.
MemberJune 18, 2021 at 12:45 am
Eleonora, you are right in the points you make, completely agree with you.
From my perspective and experience here in the UK Government needs to show leadership and have ambition, this ambition has to be complete and address every stakeholder in the tourism value chain. Hence here we have Government announcing the bold ambition to make the UK the most accessible destination in Europe by 2025. There will be little funding available to do this but by ensuring that inclusion moves into mainstream development they can effect change through policy and strategy, by supplying data and relevant tools to help businesses improve accessibility, they are basically addressing market failure.
Before the Pandemic I was working with a European National Tourism Organisation that recognised the benefits of this market and the fact that they needed to take action to support their businesses. The strongest part of the argument for doing so was the under served market of disabled people which is large, with other strong market being older people, who are used to travelling, have money in their pockets and time to do so. They recognise that many in this market will not identify themselves as disabled, but they do have access requirements that come with ageing. A major travel travel journalist here recently wrote about this market https://site.tourismforall.org.uk/news-and-views/gold-on-the-accessibility-horizon Families also benefit from inclusive design and service.
Left to the markets alone I would suggest that improvement is likely to be slow and incremental. The public sector also plays a key role in managing the public realm at national and local level, that space that joins businesses together, so for example someone is encouraged to make their hotel accessible to wheelchair users, that investment might be lost if there are no dropped kerbs or suitable infrastructure to help them navigate to bars, restaurants, shops and attractions. To assist this transport also needs to be developed inclusively. A general policy of Universal/Inclusive design and service should be a key aim and supported by Government.
In respect of the business case we probably need more studies like this https://motionspot.co.uk/blogs/news/accessible-white-horse-dorking-pay-off This highlights how accessibility can pay and help a hotel profit, but the root of this based in good design, people do not want to feel they are staying in a clinic, a key factor which drove the Chair of Bespoke hotels to start an award for good design https://www.architecture.com/awards-and-competitions-landing-page/competitions-landing-page/bespoke-access-award-2017 – these are now the Blue Badge Access Awards.
So yes, data is needed and can help drive growth but it still requires the full support and driving force of government to create a synergy or initiatives and action across the value chain to help realise the necessary changes that are needed. Without this businesses like yours can be very successful, as the market is there but also very difficult if trying to work in isolation.
Apologies I go on too much on the subject, as you rightly say though, this is a area complex of development and yet can be simple if seen through the perspective of customer service, but it requires vision to basically change the culture of the tourism sector to think differently if they are to respond to and benefit from the existing and changing markets.
MemberJune 17, 2021 at 6:21 pm
In terms of measurement I don’t think this would be that easy to do in any detailed way in the sense of the impact across all access requirements, which can be many.
A number of factors also come into play in terms of understanding the need to provide appropriate information and the impact this has in decision making e.g. Accessibility Guides about businesses. The quality of customer service, which is related back to training. Understanding the impact of removing physical barriers and the provision of appropriate facilities for people, again across a range of requirements from dietary to hearing, visual, cognitives and mobility, remembering that people are likely to have more than one access requirement and will have a mix.
I think the key would be to look at the impact of improved information and staff training, these two factors can help the development of businesses to be more accessible and they help highlight businesses that are already delivering great service to those with access requirements but just aren’t recognised for this.
This can be a difficult area to measure, it’s a bit like quality, it is very personal, what might work for you might not work for me, how do you accurately measure that? Which is why it is important to ensure that tourism is developed by government on the pillars of sustainability and inclusion, if destinations are to be successful going into the future they can’t afford to ignore these elements.
Perhaps the simplest measure is for destinations to understand what can we do better and to ensure that they listen to the broadest audience of visitors and those living in the community, who also benefit from measures to improve accessibility? Naturally any actions responding to concerns raised should be measured from the same audience to understand their impact. This is another way of looking at the impact, yes businesses do need to understand the economic impact, but to make the change the voice of the customers should come to the fore, this is what they are asking for and want and if destinations do not respond, they will lose out, a little bit like the 142 billion Euros estimated to be lost in Europe back in 2014.
MemberJune 18, 2021 at 2:09 am
Eleonora, Chris, thanks a lot for the comments and insights. I now know measurement is a big issue and there is a lot of work. Please share your thoughts if you find any new situation / new ideas on this subject.
OrganizerJune 18, 2021 at 9:11 pm
Sorry for jumping in so late. I absolutely agree with the points made here. What a great conversation, indeed!
I can imagine that useful quantitative information will be hard to find. At Visit Flanders, when doing a quality-oriented survey, we usually add a question: “Do you, or any of your travel companions, experience impairments or disabilities when travelling?” It’s a way to detect a part of the accessibility requiring segment by self-identification. Usually, it allows to make significant comparisons in travel behaviour and appreciation between the group that replied positive to the question and the entire population. But we don’t learn anything about those who have accessibility issues, but don’t acknowledge them in the survey, neither about those who would identify as disabled, but not when travelling.
Here’s an example from 2017-2018 of such a survey: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/art-inclusive-cultural-tourism-pieter-ghijsels/
MemberJune 19, 2021 at 5:18 pm
Thanks for sharing the article. The survey results give us an hints on the different motivation and evaluation points of travellers with accessibility needs. If you repeat this type of questionnaire periodically and, if the number/rate or response of people with disabilities increases from the current 4%, it means that the city has improved the destination quality for people with disability.
Log in to reply.