A new report released recently by Amadeus reveals that accessibility needs of people are not being fully catered for by either the travel industry or the public sector.
“Accessible travel is far from becoming something that millions of travelers can take for granted,” the travel technology provider says and underlines that more than two billion people around the world have accessibility needs due to disability and age.
“Lifting barriers to travel, personalizing the travel offer, using technology to further facilitate travelers’ experiences and creating more accessible infrastructure where people can navigate autonomously will benefit everybody,” says Alex Luzárraga, Vice President, Corporate Strategy, Amadeus. Accessibility is one of the elements addressed by Amadeus’ Corporate Social Responsibility strategy.
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.
“Travelers with accessibility needs increasingly now expect these to be met as part of the mainstream service and at no extra cost,” the report says. The role of technology in accessible travel is becoming more important, with specific developments such as voice recognition starting to be seen as commonplace.
Traveling by plane: Preferred transportation method
The study also finds that the overall travel experience and how this is adapted to different needs is rated at just 6.2 out of 10; traveling by plane is the preferred transportation method (35.9 percent of respondents); and the least satisfactory areas with regards to accessibility are those related to rail-way stations (4.9 out of 10) and the most satisfactory area is accommodation (6.2 out of 10).
The study 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.
Moreover, standardized content and services would increase consistency across the industry ensuring clarity in the type of services that any customer could expect. There is an opportunity in tandem for a more personalized travel experience so that each travel segment is tailored to the individual and their specific needs, the report says.
The research also recommends further collaboration between the private and public sectors to meet the expectations of travelers with accessibility needs.
The study, which was conducted by ILUNION, a consulting firm owned by ONCE, the Spanish National Organization of the Blind, was developed in the U.S, the EU and India, and included some 800 interviews with travelers with accessibility needs as well as industry experts, private-public sector representatives and international institutions. Segmentation of travelers for the study was based on people with visual, hearing, cognitive, physical disabilities and senior travelers (over 65).