Extending hospitality to Travellers

Business Research Methods, 14e/Schindler>cases

Eric Lipp started the Open Doors Organization (ODO) to help travelers with disabilities. In order to get the attention of the travel and hospitality industries, and to effect changes desired by people with disabilities, ODO undertook a major research project to estimate the expenditures of persons with disabilities and the accommodations that would be necessary to get them to travel more.

Harris Interactive was chosen to field the multimethod survey. This case describes the methodology and the effects of the first round of a multiphase study. www.opendoorsnfp.org

>Abstract

The Scenario In the last decade, companies have expended training dollars to address numerous social issues, including sexual harassment and diversity. In the hospitality industry, firms have been less than enthusiastic about allocating budgets for training and other initiatives designed to make adults with disabilities feel comfortable or welcomed.

Providing the incentive for airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and restaurants to take notice of this underappreciated and often invisible market segment was one of the motivations behind the Adults with Disabilities: Travel and Hospitality Study1 funded and coordinated by Open Doors Organization (ODO),2 a disability access advocacy organization.

Eric Lipp, executive director of ODO, shares that the population of adults with disabilities is growing. “Assuming incident rates by age remain as they are now3, by 2030 nearly 24 percent of the total U.S. population will have a disability (and more than 15 percent will be severely disabled).”

4 Other studies contribute to our understanding of increasing disability incidence as the age of a population increases. As the U.S. population ages, more seniors are likely to develop disabilities that limit or restrict movement or pose travel hurdles. Stroke caused by cerebrovascular disease is the leading cause of disability among adults.

The incidence of stroke in the United States is estimated at 700,000 new cases per year.5

Little research had been done by companies on the disability travel market segment before the ODO study. “We believe that fear [of the sensitivity of the issue],” explains Lipp, “keeps companies from exploring the opportunities.

But to get them to hear the opportunity, we’d have to show them the numbers.” Francie Turk, volunteer study consultant and principal with Consumer Connections, Inc., concludes,

“The travel industry was interested, but they thought it was politically incorrect to ask. But people, especially those who feel they haven’t been heard, appreciate being asked for their ideas.”