I’m often asked if the number of disabled travelers has increased in the 20-plus years that I’ve been covering accessible travel. Well, from an anecdotal view of things I usually answer that question with a enthusiastic yes. Of course it’s not like I’ve done a survey or anything.
That‘s where Open Doors Organization (ODO) comes in. This Chicago-based non-profit offers statistics and facts to back up my observations, and they are all included in their 2015 accessible travel survey. This scientific study was conducted by Mandala Research, LLC, as a follow-up to ODO’s studies of 2002 and 2005 on the spending trends and market scope of U.S. adult travelers with disabilities.
So what did they find?
- Over 75% of travelers with disabilities stayed in a hotel between 2013 and 2015, with 33% staying 3 or more times.
- The median number of stays declined from 3 to 2, as compared to the 2002 study.
- These travelers spent an average of $100 per-day on hotel accommodations, which represents a $25 increase — slightly higher than the rate of inflation — from the 2005 study.
And where are these travelers staying? The most often used hotels (in order of their frequency) are:
- Comfort Inn
- Best Western
- Holiday Inn Express
Which might explain that $100 per-day hotel bill. We are largely looking at budget properties as opposed to luxury properties. But that’s a good thing — there’s nothing wrong with saving a few bucks.
And last, but certainly not least, there’s some good news on the access front. According to the survey, 46% of hotel users reported major obstacles during their stay. And although on the surface that seems high, that figure is down from 60% in 2005.
So, to sum it up, folks with disabilities are getting out there and spending their hard earned cash on travel, and although they still encounter problems, things are improving.
And that’s pretty much what I’ve seen. More and more properties are making their facilities accessible — many are even going beyond the requirements. Additionally, in my travels I continue to encounter hoteliers with some very progressive attitudes towards access. And in my book, that’s a very good thing!
Let’s hope that the trend continues!