Business Travellers: LGBTQ+, Neurodivergent, Disabled, and Religious Not Well Catered For

Fewer travel programmes are catering for groups of travellers with additional needs compared to 2022, new statistics show.

After what appeared to be an encouraging rise in the number of European travel and procurement managers claiming their travel programmes were designed with special consideration for these travellers last year, new data from Business Travel Show Europe suggests that, apart from LGBTQIA+ travellers, they have fallen below 2022 levels.

The statistics come after Business Travel Show Europe conducted a survey of 141 European travel and procurement managers, asking them about catering for travellers with additional needs. Here is a breakdown of what they found:

LGBTQIA+ Travellers

As we enter Pride Month on Saturday, more than half (54%) of the 141 European corporate travel and procurement managers participating in the survey admitted their programmes do not cater for LGBTQIA+ travellers compared to 22% in 2023. A further 4% claim they would like to, but it’s too expensive. Just over a quarter (27%, a slight increase from 26% in 2022) do look after LGBTQIA+ travellers, and an additional 9% plan to. This was the only positive data point from the survey.

Travellers with Accessibility Needs

People with accessibility requirements (around 25% of the UK population is disabled) also appear to be less well catered for compared to 2023 – dropping from 48% to 43%.

Accessibility in travel will be discussed at Business Travel Show Europe on Wednesday 19 June at 12pm with a panel session titled “Let’s Make Business Travel Truly Accessible.” Panellists from Maiden Voyage, EventWell, and British Wheelchair Basketball will explain what travel managers can do to prioritise accessibility in their travel programmes and where pressure needs to be applied to improve the sector as a whole.

Business Travel Show Europe takes place between 19-20 June 2024 at ExCeL London, offering complimentary entry, a conference programme, and networking opportunities to qualified travel managers, buyers, and bookers.

Neurodivergent People

Despite accounting for around 15% of the UK population and 10% of the workforce in Europe, there’s been a significant drop in travel programmes providing consideration for neurodivergent people, from 39% to 18%. However, this is less drastic when compared with 2022 (21%).

Commenting on the findings, EventWell CEO & Founder Helen Moon said: “The reasons for ensuring neuroinclusion in travel are vast. A minimum of 20% of travellers will be diagnosed with a neurodivergent cognitive difference, but the reality is that there are an even higher number of travellers who are undiagnosed. Travel accommodations that benefit this community are well documented to benefit the mental wellbeing of ALL travellers, in the same way that drop curbs in pavements designed for individuals with physical disabilities also benefit everyone.

“Accessibility and inclusion are about removing barriers to allow everyone equal opportunity to participate and engage. As a wider industry, we have a duty of care to support this, and it is a vital component to the future of travel and events.”

Younger and Older Travellers

For these two categories of traveller, the statistics show that the number of travel programmes aligned with their needs has more than halved since last year, dropping from 54% to 26% for younger travellers, and from 47% to 23% for older travellers. In 2022, these figures were 30% for younger travellers and 31% for older travellers.

Orthodox and Jewish Travellers

Despite the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza, two-thirds (67%) of travel programmes do not provide special considerations for Jewish travellers, with a further 7% claiming they are too small a community to justify the cost. The same statistics apply to all orthodox religious travellers.

Carolyn Pearson, CEO & CIO of Maiden Voyage, commented: “Whilst this survey reflects the current state, I don’t believe it is a true reflection of the ambition of travel managers and travel management companies because we are seeing unprecedented interest in building inclusivity into travel programmes. Particularly bearing in mind the changing dynamics of today’s workforce: upcoming generations are generally more ‘gender-fluid’, different life stages (like the menopause) bring new challenges, we have an ageing workforce where more people will be encumbered by growing accessibility needs, and all of this and more will need to be factored into travel programmes moving forward.”

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