The most valuable tools you have to make your business more accessible & inclusive are your attitude, your customer service, your information, your communication channels and your partnerships and networks.
Speakers today reminded us of the huge size and underestimated value of the accessible & inclusive tourism market. And the journey towards making your business or destination more accessible & inclusive doesn’t start with, and may never even involve, compliance with standards or significant investment in hard infrastructure. The most valuable tools you have to do so are your attitude, customer service, information and partnerships.
Don’t wait to go for gold standard compliance. As Clair Crowley said “We try and encourage operators to stop thinking about being fully wheelchair accessible and to concentrate on what they have got control over”. The panel “Finding simple and inexpensive solutions for small businesses” offered some great examples on that.
Chris Kerrisk launched his presentation with a startling fact – “Did you know that for an individual with disability, the greatest source of discrimination is from service and hospitality staff?‘. But, as Chris noted, this discrimination is usually inadvertent and arises out of lack of knowledge and experience “And it’s something that we can easily fix through the bedrock of tourism: good old fashioned customer service“, a sentiment echoed by other presenters with many good practice examples given throughout the day.
By providing detailed information about your business – starting on your website -, you will make it easier for individuals to decide whether or not the infrastructure and services you’re providing are accessible to them. In our keynote, Dane Cross noted “Automatically labelling something as inaccessible, automatically excludes people from participating. Rather, it’s the provision of information that’s the important part“.
As Fred Maahs Jr. said “You could have the best hotel in the world, the best airline in the world, the most accessible. But if your website isn’t accessible, pretty much none of that other stuff means anything if your clients and customers can’t access the information that you are trying to get out there“. And there are inexpensive tasks that anyone can do as illustrated in the “Letting people know you are accessible & inclusive: Start with your website” panel.
The City of Newcastle demonstrated in their session that this is the way to get the best insights and unlock the potential of accessible & inclusive tourism for your destination.