August 04, 2005

Measuring the Demand for Inclusive Travel in 2005 - Harris Interactive Study

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The Open Doors Organization has published its most recent study of the travel behavior of Americans with disabilities. Again it reveals unmet demand and market potential as well as increased travel in spite of ongoing accessibiity issues.

A key addition to this year's study is documentation of traveler destinations - useful information for Inclusive Destination Development initiatives.

Chicago, IL – August 2005 – The Open Doors Organization (ODO) in cooperation with the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) has released the findings of its 2005 research study. The poll, conducted by Harris Interactive®, is a follow-up to ODO’s groundbreaking study of 2002 on the spending trends and market scope of U.S. adults with disabilities. “This new data,” says ODO Director Eric Lipp, “confirms what we already knew, that there is a strong disability travel market. In the past two years alone, more than 21 million adults with disabilities traveled for pleasure and/or business.” The 2005 study reveals which destinations, domestic and international, are most popular among travelers with disabilities and provides new data on Internet use. Surprisingly, the study showed marked increases in certain sectors despite ongoing barriers to access.

The 2002 ODO ( study quantified how much adults with disabilities were spending on travel – approximately $13.6 billion annually – and suggested that revenues from this market could easily double if certain needs were met and obstacles removed. The 2005 ODO study, which employed an identical methodology, shows businesses in the travel industry the extent and types of barriers the majority of travelers with disabilities still experience. Among those adults with disabilities who have traveled by air, 84% said they encountered obstacles when interfacing with airlines and 82% said they encountered obstacles at airports.

Despite such barriers, the average number of leisure trips and hotel stays was up 50% from 2002. However, 60% of travelers with disabilities who have stayed overnight in paid accommodations said they had problems at these properties, either physical barriers (48%), problems with customer service (45%) or communication barriers (15%). On the positive side, as Eric Lipp notes, “Many of the most common complaints identified by the study, such as heavy doors and lack of knowledge among staff, could be easy and inexpensive to resolve.”

In terms of restaurants, the study indicates 71% of adults with disabilities dine out at least once a week and also shows a 6% increase in casual dining from 2002. To attract this clientele, Fuddruckers restaurants are offering such things as Braille/large print menus, customer service training and larger pathways between tables. In the new poll, 40% of adults with disabilities complained of the lack of room between tables.

The 2005 ODO study covered a new area of travel car rental. It found that 20% of adults with disabilities rented a car for travel in the past two years. But a staggering 50% said they would be more inclined to rent a car if it were delivered to and picked up from them, while 36% would be willing to pay more for this service. In Eric Lipp’s view, “More rental car agencies should follow the example set by Avis, which now offers Avis Access®, a comprehensive program of individualized products to serve customers with disabilities.”

The survey was conducted both online and by telephone between February 8- 25, 2005 among a national sample of 1,373 adults aged 18 or over. The sampling error for the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points. For further description of the study methodology see below or visit the ODO website ( Harris Interactive Inc. (, the 15th largest market research firm in the world, is known for The Harris Poll® and for pioneering Internet-based research. Also contributing to the design of the ODO 2005 study was the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), a leader in market research on the U.S. travel industry.

Copies of the 2005 market study are available for sale to businesses, non- profits and individuals through the Open Doors Organization by calling 773-388-8839 or e-mailing The Open Doors Organization is a non-profit organization founded for the purpose of teaching businesses how to succeed in the disability market and for making businesses’ goods and services accessible to people with disabilities.

Contact: Eric Lipp
Open Doors Organization


The 2002 travelers with disabilities survey was conducted on behalf of Open Doors Organization by Harris Interactive with a methodology identical to the 2005 study (telephone and online). The sample consisted of 1,037 interviews (534 online and 503 by phone). The study was conducted between September 23, 2002 and October 8, 2002.

This is calculated based on data on the incidence of adults with disabilities (15% of U.S. adults) obtained through The Harris Poll (February 2005) and based off of the 209,128,094 people age 18 years and older in the U.S. population, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

This is calculated by combining expenditures for air travel, hotel stays, restaurant dining, and entertainment reported by adults with disabilities for the previous two years.

Methodology for 2005 Study
Harris Interactive® conducted the online and telephone survey in the United States on behalf of Open Doors Organization between February 8 and February 28, 2005 among 1,373 adults (including 871 online respondents and 502 telephone respondents) ages 18 and over with disabilties. Disability was defined as having blindness, deafness, or a condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting or carrying. Respondents were screened based on this criteria using a variation of the 2000 Census question. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, income and region were weighted where necessary to align with population proportions. Propensity score weighting was also used for the online sample, to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

Though the online sample is not a probability sample, in theory, with probability samples of this size, Harris Interactive estimates with 95 percent certainty that the results for the overall sample have a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points of what they would be if the entire population of U.S. adults with disabilities had been polled with complete accuracy. Sampling error for the sub-sample results of adults with disabilities who have traveled for businesss and/or leisure in the last two years (n= 1037) and adults with disabilities who have traveled by air (n= 497) is higher and varies.


Posted by rollingrains at August 4, 2005 05:06 PM