Table of Contents

Executive Summary: Five Calls to Action 

We cannot ensure seamless business travel for all without addressing accessibility

Accessibility is a material issue for business travel. As travel programs grow and travel managers look for ways to streamline their systems, we must continue to refine and define best practices for accessible business travel. Acting upon duty of care and DEI objectives, getting the highest ROI of travel, and strengthening the future of the workforce are all reasons why businesses should consider accessible business travel a material issue. Readers should consider how these four reasons apply to their unique company and program as a way to create buy-in internally (see Module 1).

Travelers’ voices should be at the decision-making table for accessible business travel

The vast array of accessibility requirements that might impact business travel goes beyond physical, permanent, or visible disabilities. Travelers have a variety of temporary, situational, permanent, visible, and invisible accessibility requirements that may not be well understood by most people, and are often faced with uncomfortable and sometimes dehumanizing situations in scenarios that others navigate without barriers. Creating awareness of these scenarios is often the first step in creating buy-in with stakeholders, so readers should find ways to bring travelers’ stories to the decision-making table. Furthermore, readers should use the “Traveler First” Guiding Principles in the development of policies or solutions to ensure respect and confidentiality, and to put the onus on the systems rather than the traveler (see Module 2). 

1.    Suppliers and travel managers should conduct an accessibility self-assessment to benchmark where programs can improve.

There are a variety of ways a travel program or supplier can get started in bringing stakeholders together to address accessible business travel. Individuals should either join or advocate for a Steering Committee or Advisory Group tasked with benchmarking challenges and existing accessibility efforts, defining priority areas for action, and identifying the roles and responsibilities of different business units. They can also join industry coalitions, resource groups, and committees to learn more about the topic and bring resources and ideas back to their company. Finally, travel managers should conduct an accessibility self-assessment of their travel program to determine what is already being done and where there are gaps. If there are resources, this can also be commissioned by a neutral third-party or as part of industry-wide benchmarking exercises (see Module 3).  

2.    Travel managers should create or strengthen systems to collect and confidentially store traveler accessibility information.

While many companies have systems to collect and store information on employees’ accessibility requirements, there are still many reasons why an employee may not choose to self-disclose. The result is that most travel managers don’t know the full extent of accessibility needs among their travelers. With duty of care and risk management being paramount to travel program success, it is imperative that companies and/or travel managers develop a transparent system to proactively collect and confidentially store information on their travelers’ accessibility requirements, in alignment with data privacy standards (see Module 4). 

3.    Travel managers should respond to travelers who disclose their accessibility requirements with a proactive and transparent support structure.

Once information on accessibility requirements is disclosed, travel managers should develop a proactive and transparent traveler support structure that can be activated. To do so, travel managers should use the Pillars of a Transparent Traveler Support Structure to acknowledge the traveler and communicate about the facilities and services available to them. Companies and travel managers can also consider specific Travel & Expense policies that would be helpful to travelers with accessibility requirements. Travel managers should collaborate with their HR team, TMC, accessibility teams, and perhaps even a small group of travelers to develop policies that work for their employees and company structure (see Module 4).

4.    Travel managers or buyers should send a demand signal for more accessible facilities and services through the procurement and supplier evaluation process.

In this toolkit, we provided a list of actions currently being undertaken by airlines and airports, hotels, ground transport companies, and venues to address accessibility. Travel suppliers should review the actions to inspire accessibility solutions with their own facilities and services. Furthermore, travel managers and buyers should send a demand signal for more accessible facilities and services through the procurement and supplier evaluation process. Event planners should improve accessibility for attendees through sourcing, communications, registration, content on-site, and travel accommodations (see Module 5).  

5.    The business travel industry should collaborate on a universal coding system that conveys more granular accessibility information that travelers commonly need.

Due to the complexity of the business travel ecosystem, there are major roadblocks in conveying the information that travelers need to book travel confidently, and in the information, suppliers need to support travelers proactively. The business travel industry should collaborate on a more granular, universal coding system that conveys the information travelers commonly need, and for airlines, hotels, and ground transport suppliers to feed into that system in a more structured way. Meanwhile, travel suppliers should aim to compile more granular information on their facilities and services, and share that in booking channels or on public websites. Finally, travel managers should create an environment where employees feel comfortable disclosing their accessibility requirements so that programs and suppliers can more proactively support them (see Module 6).