After our In-person part of the Conference on the Gold Coast, our Online Day program offered additional tips and showcased some great examples of how to Start Change Now. We heard from more than 30 speakers, had passionate discussions in the chat and enjoyed a nice virtual Get-together event to finish the day on a high note.
We’ve gathered some highlights for you!
Accessible & inclusive tourism is one of those rare opportunities where the imperatives of head and heart align!
By starting on the journey, whatever your position is in the tourism industry, you too get a chance at making some positive social impact and promoting your organisation’s sustainability and growth. The accessible & inclusive tourism ecosystem is rapidly evolving with supportive DMO’s, apps and information platforms, specialist consultancies, training programs and awards to help businesses and destinations get on board and position themselves at the forefront of change.
Beyond the more familiar benefits of accessible & inclusive travel, accessible outdoor adventure programs like Diveheart and Wounded Heroes and events like the Paralympics have multiple impacts:
There’s an additional US $15 trillion waiting to be unlocked by destinations and businesses that expand their accessible and inclusive offerings. And that’s without factoring in the multiplier effect: each customer with disability brings 3 additional customers, on average, into your business. Is there any other market segment that has that potential?
It’s also a way to differentiate your business or destination from competitors in a crowded market and win over a customer base known for repeat visitation and powerful word-of-mouth marketing. Maxine Parker, the co-founder of Access Ability Australia, summed it up perfectly: “Looking at it from a business perspective, access and inclusion is not a tick box requirement. It is a wonderful business strategy.”
Suzie Stollznow from SCIA nailed one of the most important messages for businesses entering the accessible and inclusive tourism market. You won’t ever be able to cater for everyone, but if you share clear and accurate information potential customers will be able to make the right booking decision.
Starting by undertaking an accessibility assessment, whether you work with a consultant or online tools, not only improves the quality of your information, it also increases your knowledge and awareness of key contributors to accessibility, inclusivity and a positive customer experience.
Physical accessibility is important but without a welcoming and inclusive customer service the tourism experience is diminished. And when accessibility is less than perfect, a respectful attitude and a genuine desire to help can still make the experience inclusive and positive for the customer, so don’t underestimate the value of building disability awareness and confidence in your team.
As Chris Veitch noted: “Destinations and businesses that focus on customer service and visitor experience already do well. What we’re simply saying is that inclusion is just a way of looking at those with a much wider audience in mind.” Appointing an accessibility champion within the business is an effective way to start.
It’s wonderful to get the recognition and marketing benefits of winning an award for accessibility and inclusivity. Ally and Seiya Hongo, from the Japan Travel Awards, listed all the benefits the winners of their Accessibility Prize got from being put in the spotlight.
Even if you don’t win, applying for awards is another valuable learning experience that provides you with expert feedback to continue to improve and grow your business. It’s exciting to see that from this year Australian tourism businesses can apply for the Excellence in Accessible Tourism category of the Australian Tourism Awards.