Destinations That are Inclusive by Design

Scott Rains in Korea 3.jpg

Designing the Destination-of-Choice:

Inclusive Destination Development

By Scott Rains, the Rolling Rains Report

Inclusion

We target social inclusion.

With inclusion as the comprehensive goal mere accessibility is a necessary but less-than-terminal objective.

An "adapted" or "barrier-free" environment may succeed at facilitating tolerance but the full active social inclusion of persons who experience disability requires more.

Universal Design

To arrive at inclusion we engage in a process that constantly refers back to the principles and goals of Universal Design.  We feel that this communicates a primary orientation toward engaging stakeholder involvement and innovation while it honors the uniqueness of each situation when developing a solution.

Rights-Based and Market-Based

 We use both legal arguments such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and studies of the market potential of this niche.

We emphasize the market-based approach because it so little known. We find that by retaining constant awareness of the market we reinforce a problem-solving approach suited to business and government's best impulses toward customer service. The alternative, a mandated compliance approach alone, sometimes triggers a defensive reflex. That can result in our market being marginalized as a risk to be managed rather than a profit center.

Engaging Imagination

We regularly re-emphasize the freedom to be gained from a design approach. 

Design is often not a part of the culture (and thus skill-set) of the organizations we work with. Without a design approach the process tends to jump to discussion of the technical aspects of accessibility implementation. Punch lists and code check sheets gain precedence.

Engaging the Market

People with disabilities are an under-served market and an under-tapped employment pool. As such the initial return on investment can be remarkable and the aggregate numbers startling. Studies of the travel behavior of Americans with disabilities showed an annual expenditure of $13.6 billion on travel (ODO 2002, 2005). European, Canadian, and Australian studies are similarly surprising. Surveys of people with disabilities as well as anecdotal workplace evidence show the group often demonstrates a higher motivation to work than other sectors.

Marketing by Design

Designing for people with disabilities as both customers and employees creates a positive feedback loop.

The studies mentioned above show that the market sector whose travel behavior is most influenced by word-of-mouth networks is people with disabilities. They also document that this sector lists "employees who understand my needs" as the number one priority they would change about the tourism industry to improve their experience as customers.

Employees with disabilities must, for reasons of practical survival, become experts on the accessibility of their employer's venue, their city, and their country. Their expertise is sought out by travelers with disabilities and seniors. Their very presence in a workforce communicates welcome to the guest with a disability. It suggests that the built environment and management culture of an enterprise has grasped the importance of inclusion.

Such a venue has a strong chance of becoming a destination-of-choice for this growing travel sector.

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