The headline finding of our recent report into digital accessibility in the travel industry was that businesses could do a lot more to improve the accessibility of their websites and help disabled people book their holidays. There at least 1.1 billion disabled people on the planet, with a combined spending power in excess of $4 trillion. Even diluted across different industries, that’s a sizeable base of potential customers and revenue.
The changing environment of accessibility
The London Paralympics did much to encourage awareness of the broad spectrum of disabilities and to redefine what ‘disabled’ means in the public sphere. At the same time, the increasing desire for mobile technology means that features that would once have been seen as accessibility bolt-ons have become essential, for example mobile users are often 'temporarily disabled' in bright sunlight or when using their phone one-handed whilst walking, or hands-free whilst driving.
Getting ahead of the competition
As this example shows, accessible design offers an opportunity for any business to respond to customer needs and gain a competitive advantage.
Anyone in a global, highly competitive industry such as travel and tourism needs to take every opportunity to stand out from the crowd. It is also an industry that has started to recognise the market opportunities in catering for disabled customers, with many catering for their needs when travelling and providing specialist facilities in their destinations. This is especially true for those sectors that target older customers - such as cruise companies that provide extensive facilities on board and are careful to design their ships to cater for older customers.
However they aren't so careful when it comes to making sure that their website is accessible - which means some of their potential cusotmers won't be able to browse their site or make a booking.
Our accessibility team recently conducted tests on some of the biggest sites of the UK travel industry and their research shows how badly they are performing when it comes to accessibility. You can read the full report and review the findings in more detail in our e-Nation Report.
The travel industry is a highly competitive, billion dollar industry where a small change in market share can mean a massive uplift in revenues. Knowing that your competitors are performing poorly in a particular area offers a huge opportunity to reach new audiences and provide a much better service.
AbilityNet’s Head of Digital Inclusion, Robin Christopherson points out that a niche subject like accessibility can offer huge gains for any business that takes it seriously. “It’s a very neglected area that can have a massive impact. Following the accessibility guidelines (WCAG2.0) is the quickest way to get a competitive edge because your competitors are doing so poorly.”
By improving the accessibility of their website and other digital content, any one of these companies could expand their customer base and earn millions in increased revenue in the process.
To find out more about the business case for accessibility, you can watch this presentation by AbilityNet's Mark Walker.