Listen to this article
As a tourism operator you know, that like any business, you can't ever be all things to all people. There are few businesses that will appeal across really broad demographics. That is why you will have worked out your most valuable market so that your marketing dollars are targeted at the right people.
Similarly, with accessibility, it is almost impossible to be suitable for all people who have accessibility needs. This is why, here at Travel For All, we dislike the phrasing “our property is accessible”. It is meaningless without a lot more information. How is it accessible and for who?
Accessibility is about a lot more than wheelchairs and assistance dogs. Even if your definition is about these things, it is important to remember that not every wheelchair or assistance dog user will have the same needs when visiting your property.
What you can do when it comes to accessibility is to provide more information so that people who have some access needs, can see what you offer and make the decision if a visit or stay with you will work for them.
How big is the accessible travel market?
As a business, you probably aim to reach as much of your target market as possible with your marketing mix.
Did you know, that regardless of your target market, anywhere from 15-30% of that market will have some accessibility needs?
So some quick stats to back that up:
- 4.4 million people in Australia live with disability, which is almost 18% of the population (Source: ABS 2018)
- 3.9 million people in Australia are aged over 65 and almost half of those people live with disability (Source: ABS 2018)
- 35.9% of Australian households include a person with disability (Source: ABS 2015)
- 4.4% of people with disability in Australia use a wheelchair (Source: ABS 2015)
- Many disabilities or impairments are invisible to others – your guest may not “look like” they have accessibility needs
- Accessibility is also important for many people who do not come within the official stats, for example people who live with chronic illness, have had an accident or have some mobility, sensory or communication impairments
- Families travelling with prams and strollers will also benefit from accessible pathways and buildings
- 88% of people with a disability take a holiday each year, comparable with the general population
Research from 2008 estimated the value of the accessible travel market in Australia at billion each year. The research also showed that many travellers were in groups, taking the effective group spend to $24 billion per year, or 30% of the market. Unfortunately there isn't more recent research to assess the impact now. Source: Accessible Tourism Study (CRC 2008)
Why it makes business sense to think about accessibility
Let's say that with experience you have established that your tourism business is best targeted at families with an average income.
You have a website and marketing materials that focus primarily on the family market. Your pricing has proven to be affordable for this market.
People in this market, who have accessibility needs, will see your marketing and go searching on your website for more information. They may need to know how long the walk is around your tourist attraction, or how many stairs there are up to the accommodation, or if there is a hearing loop, or if there is some grass nearby for their assistance dog, or something else that is a must-have for them.
However, because the information about accessibility on your website is limited or non-existent, anywhere from 15-30% of your target market feel excluded. They are also less likely to become customers.
It is all about the numbers. You need as many people as possible in your target market to see your marketing and become a customer. So why focus on only 70% or 80% of this market? Why not give everyone the chance (and the information) to decide if your place is for them?
Aside from the numbers making business sense, being inclusive and welcoming to all also makes perfect business sense.
Get started with accessibility in your tourism business
We have a free guide for you to help you get started with accessibility.
This provides you with some key information and a checklist of features and information that you can consider including in your business and sharing on your website.
Available now: Travel For All Accessibility Toolkit
Your Accessibility Toolkit includes:
- Lifetime access to Travel For All Accessibility Toolkit
- Assessment Tools to document the features of your property and create your Accessibility Statement
- Hosting for your Accessibility Statement, including unlimited images to illustrate the statement
- Access to a private Tourism Operators' Forum
- Travel For All badge to add to your website and show your commitment to inclusive tourism
- Option to purchase additional services services