Abta’s Nikki White says one of the biggest problems travellers with disabilities face is notification of their needs being logged at the booking stage

January and February are traditionally critical months for the industry, offering an early indication of consumer confidence and how the rest of the year may pan out. Any bookings made now are key to profitability and companies will be keen to access a wide market.

It is estimated there are over eight million people in the UK who have some form of disability. This represents a highly significant source of potential business.

However, it is also a market where getting things wrong will run the risk of both alienating customers, seriously damaging your company’s reputation and potentially leaving you vulnerable to very negative media coverage.

Know the law

There are legal obligations on travel companies relating to the provision of services to travellers with a disability and most of these are to do with accessibility. If you are unsure of your obligations, this may appear challenging, 
but it is nothing in comparison 
to the challenges faced by those with disabilities.

Help is available to all Abta members through our guidance on accessibility. Although it’s certainly true that many travel companies have already invested time and effort to ensure their staff are properly trained and procedures are suitably structured, it’s still always advisable to periodically review processes and staff awareness in order to ensure you meet customers’ requirements and give the best possible service.

Check Abta’s checklist

Abta’s guidance on accessibility was refreshed last year and we have also just reformatted our booking checklist. A large part of getting processes right is knowing what questions to ask, as well as how to ask them and where information should be sent once you have it. Using the checklist means you can be confident you are doing what is required.

The main responsibility for ensuring air and other forms of travel are accessible throughout the EU lies with the transport providers and various ports and, on the whole, they do a great job. 
However, one of the most common problems is prior warning that a passenger might need assistance. This is where the booking checklist helps make sure you are completing your part of the process correctly.

Abta’s guidance is available to all members on abta.com, so take the time to check it. It will help you keep business, empower staff and safeguard your positive reputation too.