Billions are lost through lack of ‘Inclusive hospitality.’

I know only to well, as a female traveller, the issues that we can face when travelling. Insecurity is problematic on many levels, and as I’ve stated in previous articles, more attention needs to be given to this.

However, women are just one part of a massive population apparently that face exclusion, discomfort and in many ways, just a general lack of sufficient interest by the travel industry to meet their specific needs. I read with interest recently about the huge amount of money that is potentially lost also through the neglect of the disabled, students and many others.

The disabled alone apparently number a potential billion customers, all simply requiring some additional accommodation and care when travelling. This type of support is called ‘inclusive hospitality’ – and billions of dollars per year are lost through lack of it.

What are some challenges being faced?

This is a big subject, but in essence, some of the challenges faced are, for the disabled, many challenges from transport to flights, accommodation and other issues whilst traversing through unknown territory. Obviously, security is also an issue faced by the more vulnerable and sometimes mental health issues are not insufficiently dealt with.

Women face a security issue primarily and in spite of women travelling in groups, or with male colleagues; this has still been a problem for many who have to travel alone simply due to business demands.

According to the US state department in international travel “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex travellers (LGBTQ) can face unique challenges when travelling abroad.” According to an authoritative 2019 report from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association “Laws and attitudes in some countries may affect safety and ease of travel. Legal protections vary from country to country. Many countries do not legally recognise same-sex marriage. More than 70 countries consider consensual same-sex sexual relations a crime, sometimes carrying severe punishment.”

So these are just a few types of people faced with travel issues of all kinds, and this is why TMCs need to adopt active, inclusive hospitality solutions in all their travel offerings.

What are some potential solutions?

Regarding women, TMCs need to create separate women’s travel safety packages that outline risks and assist them to minimise some of the primary concerns best. They need to get information from people who have experienced these kinds of risks and find out how they have best dealt with what they have faced.

For LGBTQ travellers, we as an industry need to ensure we know where prejudice is happening and warn our travellers accordingly. Make it a normal part of every travel package agenda, automatically assuming that not all travellers are heterosexual.

For the disabled and any other form of disadvantages traveller (remembering that racial issues too still rear their ugly head) we need to take a moral stance to ensure that we see every one of our customers as equal, some with more needs than others, but all as important as the next.

Obviously, ‘inclusive’ hospitality is about the inclusion of every area of travel and hospitality. For some even getting to the airport is a challenge, so from Transport companies to Airlines, to hoteliers and the hospitality industry in every country – and the TMCs themselves, we need to stand together to create a better travel experience for everyone.

For those who can’t see this, they could be losing out on their slice of a potential additional $13 billion annual travel spend pie. A pie that we, as an industry facing our own financial issues, can ill afford not to bake!

LIDIA FOLLI

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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