Disability Awareness Training for the Travel and Hospitality Industries

Image of a woman and her guide dog being assisted by an airport employeePeople with disabilities live, work, travel, and participate in all aspects of society—but not without challenges. A frequent barrier to access and inclusion is transportation, particularly long-distance travel. In fact, of the more than 26 million adults with disabilities who took more than 73 million trips for business and/or pleasure, 72% said they encountered major obstacles with airlines and 65% experienced problems at airports (Open Doors, 2015).

AIR has created online training for the travel and hospitality industries to improve your understanding of travelers with disabilities, improve services for customers with disabilities, reduce complaints, and build brand loyalty.

Customer Service Matters for Travelers with Disabilities

Good accessibility benefits all travelers. People with disabilities have the greatest need for accessible facilities and services, but only a small percentage use a wheelchair; many more have cognitive, sensory, or other impairments. Sometimes those disabilities are not visible.

Adults with disabilities spend more than $17 billion on travel annually (Open Doors). These individuals typically travel with one or more other adults, meaning that the economic impact is likely closer to $34 billion.

By improving your customer service for people with disabilities, you can:

  • Gain a competitive edge. You already know that a happy traveler is a happy customer—one who is more likely to use your services again. Increase loyalty and your market share by understanding the needs of travelers with disabilities.
  • Reduce risk. Negative experiences can cause travelers to choose another airport, airline, hotel chain, or car service. Consumer complaints often become public and widespread through social media. These experiences can also lead to legal action when customers believe their rights have been violated. Reduce your risk and improve your reputation by learning how best to serve customers with disabilities.

How We Are Helping Train the Airport Workforce

AIR can help your organization enhance customer service and gain a richer understanding of the needs of all travelers, particularly those with disabilities.

Our online, self-paced learning modules help your staff understand the following:

  • What is a disability?
  • What services do travelers with disabilities prefer?
  • What are the legal rights of travelers with disabilities?
  • How can we respectfully engage with travelers with disabilities?

Our training includes deep learning activities, interactive scenarios with immediate feedback, job aids that can be downloaded for later reference, clear and simple information on the legal rights of travelers with disabilities, and user tracking mechanisms for administrative purposes. Online training is available in multiple languages and uses mobile technology for easy access and completion.

Want more in-depth assistance? Our in-person training can build confidence in your staff in how best to serve people with disabilities with respect and compassion. Our training can help airport, airline, and other travel industry staff provide the best customer service experience for travelers with disabilities.

We also offer blended learning options, customized to meet your needs.

To learn more about how we can help you enhance your customer service to travelers with disabilities, contact us at DisabilityRehabAIR@air.org.

About AIR's Work in Transportation and Disability

AIR has a long history of working across transportation and disability sectors to improve opportunities for all people. Our experts and our broad network of consultants with disabilities help to ensure our work reflects real-world needs and solutions.

Examples of our work:

  • Our professional developers empower people with hearing loss to become community trainers and advocates for improved hearing assistive technology and train people with spinal cord injury on safe wheelchair transfer techniques.
  • Our researchers engage people with disabilities in defining the questions they want answered.
  • Our knowledge translation experts ensure that people with disabilities have a voice in policy discussions that affect their lives.
  • Our evaluators identify risk-based approaches to address mental fatigue among Transportation Security Administration staff, survey pilots for their perceptions of training, and conduct research to determine how aviation professionals conceptualize the information conveyed in the Federal Aviation Administration's Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) System.
  • Our psychometricians conduct comprehensive job analyses and competency modeling for all jobs across the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority.