Radisson Seven Seas Cruises "Runs Aground"

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This morning I completed the booking for four clients scheduled to take Radisson's Inside Passage cruise this June. An instructive incident occurred as I was doing diligence to see that the three disabled passengers were properly accommodated.

The representative of Radison's Air Concierge Service, who is handling the flights, flaty refused to make note of the passenger's mobility needs in her electronic record.

What was most striking to me about this incident was that I had been occupying my time on hold by reading Burnett & Baker's "Assessing the Travel-Related Behaviors of the Mobility-Disabled Consumer (Journal of Travel Research, Vol. 40, August 2001, 4-11)

As the representative argued with me my eyes fell on this quote:

The rapid expansion of the consumer segment known as the disabled has spurred a new interest in this potential market of 50 million individuals. This group ia expected to double by the year 2030 (Lach 1999) and has 1998 discretionary income of $200 billion. Most of this growth will come from the aging baby boomers, a group vital to the continued success of the travel and tourism industry. Despite the critical need to undertsand the disabled as consumers, the general focus has been on satisfying a set of costly rules for a customer group that is often not even desired.

In addition, the last e-mail I read before making the call for my clients was a first-hand account of the launch of the Royal Carribean International's Mariner of the Seven Seas.

At the christening the Godmother was Jean Driscoll, a wheelchair-user. Firsthand accounts of the from by people with disabilities on the ship-board inspection of facilities -- and equally import, of the crew -- were glowing.

In fact, the message was clear and consistent from the CEO and senior staff on down at Radisson's competitor Royal Caribbean International. RCI's message? "We aim to be the cruise line of choice for persons with disabilities!"

In fairness, every representative from the cruise ship side of Radisson's operations was knowledgeable and noteworthy in their helpfulness. It is unfortunate that this care in customer service is not evident across the aisle in air conceirge.

The results, measured in profits, should Radisson Air Concierge make the simple shift from a grudging compliance to a universal design approach could earn a few people in that department a nice year-end bonus.

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