Fewer programs for travelers with additional needs

According to a survey by Business Travel Show Europe (BTSE), there are now fewer travel programs and policies that cater to travelers with additional needs than in the past two years.

The survey of 141 Europe-based travel and purchasing managers found that there are currently more pressing priorities, such as cost savings and sustainability, that are more important than catering specifically to groups such as LGBTQIA+ travelers, single women and those with accessibility issues.

Managers were asked whether their travel policies and programs were developed with special attention to different types of travelers, but the results were less encouraging than in both 2022 and 2023.

Only 27 percent say their programs are designed with LGBTQIA+ travelers in mind, up from 26 percent in 2022 but down from 43 percent last year. More than half of buyers (54 percent) said their programs did not include amenities for LGBTQIA+ travelers – up from just 22 percent in 2023.

Similarly, only 36 percent of programs included a focus on solo female travelers – down from 42 percent in 2022 and 45 percent in 2023.

There were also declines for “marginalized” communities up to 23 percent and for those with accessibility needs (up to 43 percent), compared to the previous two years. It was a similar story for neurodivergent people, with only 18 percent of programs specifically aimed at them, compared to 39 percent last year.

Carolyn Pearson, CEO of travel safety consultancy Maiden Voyage, said: “While this research reflects the current state of play, I do not believe it is a true reflection of the ambition of travel managers and travel management companies (TMCs) as we see unprecedented levels of interest in building of inclusivity in travel programs, especially considering the changing dynamics of today’s workforce.

“Upcoming generations are generally ‘gender fluid’, different life stages (such as menopause) bring new challenges, we have an aging workforce where more people will be hindered by growing accessibility needs, and this everything and more will have to be addressed. will be included in future travel programs.”

The research also found that there is less attention paid to the needs of both younger and older travelers within policies and programs. Only 26 percent of buyers said their programs include a special focus on younger travelers, compared to 54 percent a year ago. Similarly, only 23 percent of programs specifically addressed issues affecting older travelers, compared to 47 percent last year.

Improving accessibility within business travel will be discussed at the Business Travel Show Europe on Wednesday 19 June at 12pm with a panel including representatives from Maiden Voyage, social charity EventWell and British Wheelchair Basketball.

Business Travel Show Europe, managed by the BTN Group, takes place from 19 to 20 June at ExCeL London. Registration for the show is now open.

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