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Business Travellers: LGBTQ+, Neurodivergent, Disabled, and Religious Not Adequately Catered For

Fewer travel programmes are accommodating groups of travellers with additional needs compared to 2022, new statistics reveal.

Following what seemed to be an encouraging rise in the number of European travel and procurement managers claiming their travel programmes were designed with special consideration for these travellers last year, new data from Business Travel Show Europe indicates that, apart from LGBTQIA+ travellers, they have fallen below 2022 levels.

The statistics are based on a survey conducted by Business Travel Show Europe, which involved 141 European travel and procurement managers. Here is a breakdown of their findings:

LGBTQIA+ Travellers

As Pride Month approaches on Saturday, more than half (54%) of the 141 European corporate travel and procurement managers surveyed admitted their programmes do not cater for LGBTQIA+ travellers, compared to 22% in 2023. Additionally, 4% claim they would like to, but it’s too expensive. Just over a quarter (27%, slightly up from 26% in 2022) do cater for LGBTQIA+ travellers, with an additional 9% planning to do so. This was the only positive data point from the survey.

Travellers with Accessibility Needs

Individuals with accessibility requirements (around 25% of the UK population is disabled) also appear to be less well catered for compared to 2023 – declining from 48% to 43%.

Accessibility in travel will be addressed at Business Travel Show Europe on Wednesday 19 June at 12pm during a panel session titled “Let’s Make Business Travel Truly Accessible.” Panellists from Maiden Voyage, EventWell, and British Wheelchair Basketball will discuss what travel managers can do to prioritise accessibility in their travel programmes and where pressure needs to be applied to enhance the sector overall.

Business Travel Show Europe will be held from 19-20 June 2024 at ExCeL London, offering complimentary entry, a conference programme, and networking opportunities to qualified travel managers, buyers, and bookers.

Neurodivergent People

Despite accounting for around 15% of the UK population and 10% of the workforce in Europe, there has been a substantial decline in travel programmes that provide consideration for neurodivergent people, dropping from 39% to 18%. Nonetheless, this is less drastic when compared with 2022 (21%).

Commenting on the findings, EventWell CEO & Founder Helen Moon said: “The reasons for ensuring neuroinclusion in travel are vast. A minimum of 20% of travellers will be diagnosed with a neurodivergent cognitive difference, but the reality is that there are an even higher number of travellers who are undiagnosed. Travel accommodations that benefit this community are well documented to benefit the mental wellbeing of ALL travellers, in the same way that drop curbs in pavements designed for individuals with physical disabilities also benefit everyone.

“Accessibility and inclusion are about removing barriers to allow everyone equal opportunity to participate and engage. As a wider industry, we have a duty of care to support this, and it is a vital component to the future of travel and events.”

Younger and Older Travellers

For these two categories of traveller, the statistics show that the number of travel programmes aligned with their needs has more than halved since last year, dropping from 54% to 26% for younger travellers, and from 47% to 23% for older travellers. In 2022, these figures were 30% for younger travellers and 31% for older travellers.

Orthodox and Jewish Travellers

Despite the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza, two-thirds (67%) of travel programmes do not provide special considerations for Jewish travellers, with a further 7% claiming they are too small a community to justify the cost. The same statistics apply to all orthodox religious travellers.

Carolyn Pearson, CEO & CIO of Maiden Voyage, commented: “Whilst this survey reflects the current state, I don’t believe it is a true reflection of the ambition of travel managers and travel management companies because we are seeing unprecedented interest in building inclusivity into travel programmes. Particularly bearing in mind the changing dynamics of today’s workforce: upcoming generations are generally more ‘gender-fluid’, different life stages (like the menopause) bring new challenges, we have an ageing workforce where more people will be encumbered by growing accessibility needs, and all of this and more will need to be factored into travel programmes moving forward.”

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