The Access Agency

Not niche, not nice to have

As the travel industry revives, those who are not getting serious about giving customers – including disabled and older travellers – greater access and information are leaving money on the table.

Why? First and foremost because we are ‘not niche people’ – we’re the largest minority in the world today. People with access needs represent, in fact, at least one in every five potential travellers. Here, we debunk the niche-market myth as well as others that paint accessible travel as a poor investment.

Myth Number One: ‘The audience is too small’

‘Niche’ is another word that gets used a lot. But let’s be clear. We’re not talking about ‘disabled tourism’. We’re talking about customers who require better accessibility. New parents with prams. Someone who’s sustained a knee injury after a late-night misadventure. Older travellers (a fast-growing and lucrative market). And of course, the estimated one in five of us who live with a permanent or temporary disability, or long-term health condition. Add to this the fact that we tend travel in parties of three to four people, and you have a very prominent market.

Myth Number Two: The dollars aren’t there

The market is not only larger but more valuable than you think – and there is plenty of evidence to prove it.

A recent report by Amadeus found that in Europe and the United States alone, travellers with access needs are worth about $US70 billion. Meanwhile, a 2018 Austrade report pegged the sector’s combined potential value in Victoria and Queensland at $AU8 billion.

It found that disabled travellers and their companions alone account for 14 per cent of the market for travel experiences and services related to overnight stays or day trips.

This figure doesn’t include other types of travellers with accessibility needs. The report also urged the industry to take note of the ‘sizeable, growing and diverse range of travellers with accessibility needs’, noting how our rapidly ageing population would see a dramatic increase in disability and long-term health needs.

Myth Number Three: Making ourselves accessible is expensive

Depending on your size and type of organisation, you may not need to be accredited by a body. Often, all it takes to attract people with access needs is a smart strategy and a welcoming attitude.

As a traveller, I just want to know that I can get there, get around easily and be able to use the loo! Remember, too, that people with access needs are often just looking for more information. Make it prominent, make it clear, and make it detailed. It’s one of the most cost-effective things you can do.