The Inclusion Imperative

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Listen to this page about The Inclusion Imperative…

Are accessibility and inclusion the same thing?

In our view, they are not.

The narrative of accessibility is commonly perceived as relating almost exclusively to the built environment and its barriers – and little beyond the ‘accessible room’ inventory. This often means that the focus and attention is directed solely to the 7% of disabled people who use wheelchairs, and their capacity to manage and manouevre in a particular place or space.

In stark contrast, Inclusion is the experiential and considers equity of opportunity for every guest to partake, participate and to be ‘wowed’ (not just accommodated), should they so choose, in all aspects and at every touch-point of a hotel stay or related service, whatever their mobility, physical, sensory or neurodiversity may be.

This right to inclusion and equity is enshrined in equality legislation across the globe. That aside, it’s absolutely the ‘right thing’ for an organisation to strive for and to embrace – morally, ethically and of equal imperative, commercially.

Being accessible means guests can come to the party.
Being inclusive means they can choose to dance when they get there.

What do we mean by guest inclusion?

Inclusion, equality and diversity policies and procedures are commonplace in most organisations. They are designed to ensure compliance with legislative obligation. But this tends to apply to the workforce.

In contrast, guest inclusion strategies focus on the holistic experience of a stay or service. Guest inclusion ensures the essential customer-satisfaction, brand-loyalty, revenue generating activity that not only transforms the landscape of opportunity experience for disabled guests but also addresses the very same equality legislative requirements.

Why now?

Enough already. It’s time. And together, we can do this.

It’s time because stakeholders – owners and socially conscious investors are beginning to actively seek organisations that recognise the cultural and competitive advantages that embracing and positioning accessibility and guest-inclusion firmly and authentically at the heart of their ESG.

It’s time because disabled consumers are increasingly aware of their rights and will choose to stay with hotels, resorts and other service providers who manifest genuine caring and inclusion awareness. Who make visible provision, beautifully, as they would any other aspect of their luxury offering. Who extend a genuine welcome and a desire to ‘wow’ every guest, whatever their requirements may be. Who are saying, come and stay. Come and play!

And it’s time because it’s the right thing to do. For everyone.

Is their evidence of change?

There is and it’s growing ever more compelling. Luxury trade events such as Travelux and We are Africa have recognised the inclusion imperative, inviting keynote speakers to introduce, enlighten and excite exhibitors, buyers and media and impress the need for change and to recognise the scale of opportunity and ROI that establishing inclusion excellence will bring. Delivering the message, credibly and powerfully, that together, we can do this.

Increasing numbers of publications including the excellent monthly ‘Beyond Barriers’ features by Sophie Morgan, in Condé Nast Traveller, are placing accessibility and inclusion in luxury hospitality, travel and leisure into the spotlight it has so long deserved. This is a game changer in its own right.

And here at Inclu we are engaged with organisations and individuals across the total landscape – hospitality, travel designers, DMC, event organisers, representatives, tourist boards, property developers, independent travel designers, tour operators, concierge services, purveyors of luxury goods and even governments.

So change is happening. We call it the evolution of inclusion. And it’s time has come.

Is there a market?

One in six of the world’s population is disabled. They, with their family and households, have an annual disposable income of $13 trillion. A significant number have the resources, time and ambition to travel. They would, if only our industry gave them the confidence to do so. This represents a market without equivalence in its scale of opportunity. The real question should perhaps be ‘how big do we want it to be?’