Tui is to roll out new disability awareness training to staff across its shop network as it reports a significant growth in bookings from clients with accessible needs.

Speaking at an Accessible Travel and Tourism Seminar hosted by Abta, Tui Group’s manager for people with reduced mobility and accessibility manager Marina Snellenberg said bookings for this summer in which at least one customer has access requirements is up by 130% on the summer of 2016.

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A new e-learning module for agents will cover general disability awareness and scenarios likely to happen in a holiday environment. It will help agents know where to find accessibility information and book services such as airport assistance, step-free transfers or adapted rooms.

The training has been developed in part to help agents overcome confidence issues in selling travel to clients with accessible needs and follows a review of all Tui’s products over the last year and their suitability for people with reduced mobility.

Snellberg said: “Disability awareness training is key to understand the different holiday requirements customers may have. Agents should feel confident and empowered to help customers with reduced mobility and disabilities so they can find the holiday that’s right for them.”

Snellenberg added that meeting the needs of customers with accessibility requirements was “at the forefront of what we do”.

“We have an ageing population and disabilities are more prevalent,” said Snellenberg. “Our agents are not medical experts. We need to be able to give them the tools to cater for our customers.”

Agents already have access to an internal online information service called Tui KnowHow which gives prepared answers and links to existing articles on accessibility, such as the availability of ambulifts or wheelchair accessible vehicles in resorts. The company is also looking at a self-service tool to allow clients and agents to search accessible information online.

The group has also begun to categorise its hotels as to whether they are suitable for clients with reduced mobility. This looks at whether the hotel has step-free access throughout the property and accessible rooms. So far, around 300 of 3,500 hotels across Tui’s programmes have been categorised.

Hotels which work with Tui have a contractual obligation to fill in 70 point questionnaires on facilities and services including whether there are handrails in the bathrooms.

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