Accessible, inclusive travel means that everyone can take part. But so many holidays, packages, trips and tours often overlook the different needs of travellers, effectively excluding them from the experience.
This is particularly challenging when it comes to adventure holidays. Disabled holidaymakers and wheelchair users often find it difficult if not impossible to book an active experience that meets their needs – but it shouldn’t be that way.
So, what do tour operators and holiday companies need to be doing differently? There’s no snappy slogan or quick-fix solution that will fit every situation (and nor should there be), but there are plenty of lessons that all operators can learn from.
Avoiding box-ticking and marketing slogans – without making real improvements
Sadly, some travel and tourism operators are guilty of ‘greenwashing’ when it comes to the inclusivity of their offer. Just like when organisations promote themselves as eco-friendly brands, this is where travel firms pay lip service to accessibility – but without actually making the changes that matter to their customers.
It’s too easy to throw words like ‘inclusivity’ and ‘accessibility’ around, especially when it comes to marketing holidays and travel experiences. But companies really do need to back up their claims with action, or they could have some very disappointed customers on their hands.
In-depth understanding of each travellers needs
This is possibly the most important, and the most difficult, thing to get right. To make a trip truly accessible for every single traveller, you need to put the work in. It takes research and many conversations with your customers to understand what they need from a range of different situations. You need to take every kind of traveller into account, and ask the right questions.
For example, it’s not enough to install wheelchair ramps at an attraction and claim it is accessible. Operators also need to think about the following, to name just a few examples:
- What about the catering vendor – does it display allergen information properly?
- Are announcements made over a PA system only, or are there other ways to alert deaf travellers?
- Are there descriptions and specific instructions available for someone who is partially sighted?
- Is the furniture suitable for use by people of any size?
Getting the details right
When it comes to fully inclusive travel experiences, the details really, really matter. It’s critical to put the guest at the heart of every decision and environment.
For example, popping up a separate webpage or sending an email covering mobility and accessibility before a trip, making wheelchair storage available, or avoiding putting out snacks during Ramadan if a lot of your guests are Muslim.
A thoughtful, considerate and detail-oriented approach benefits everyone.
Working with the right partners
Lastly, travel companies need to work with in-destination partners who share their values and commitment to inclusivity.
Along with the other important considerations above, this is an integral part of our approach here at Blank Canvas. Our values help us to deliver safe, fun and enriching travel for every kind of guest, including disabled travellers and members of the LGBTQ+ community. And we only work with others who share this commitment.
Our travel experts pride themselves on creating bespoke, highly personalised itineraries that meet every need. Safe to say, we’re on it when it comes to the details.