Hospitality: Disabled Consumers Experience Limited Choice, New Research Finds

Business Disability Forum (BDF) has published extensive new research which finds that disabled consumers in the UK experience limited choice and feelings of disempowerment when choosing a place to eat or drink. Almost half of respondents (45 per cent) said that their choice of hospitality venue was limited by their disability or access needs.

‘Hospitality: What disabled consumers choose to buy and why’ looks at how people choose where to eat or drink and why. Supported by Microsoft, this is one of a series of in-depth research reports which examines buying experiences of the 1 in 5 people in the UK who have a disability. The series considers purchasing experiences across seven key sectors, including hospitality.

Business Disability Forum commissioned Open Inclusion to carry out the research. Research was gathered through an online survey and focus groups via Open Inclusion’s pan disability insight community.

Hospitality: Key findings

Of the disabled consumers who had been involved in selecting or researching a hospitality venue in the last two years (165 respondents):
• 85 per cent said that disability or access needs influenced their choice of restaurant, café or pub.
• 75 per cent of respondents said that finding the information they needed was more challenging because of their disability or access needs.
• 45 per cent observed that choice of hospitality venues was limited because of their disability or access needs.
• Only 39 per cent said that they felt confident they had made the right choice of hospitality venue.

In general, the research found that disabled consumers chose to spend their money on places that had either provided them with good information and service before or had been positively reviewed by people like them.
• 48 per cent said they relied on positive reviews and recommendations.
• 32 per cent of those surveyed said ‘I read general reviews in the media, websites or comparison websites, such as TripAdvisor’.
• 21 per cent agreed that ‘When possible, I will filter or look for reviews and recommendations from people like me’.

Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum, said:
“Businesses cannot afford to overlook the needs and spending habits of disabled consumers. Yet, too often, disabled people face limited choice, increased costs, or even difficulty finding the goods and services they want and need.

“For disabled people, the need for better access to services and products has never been more urgent. Many disabled people face additional costs associated with having a disability. With living costs rising, it is more important than ever that disabled consumers have the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions and to get the best deals possible.

“Our research shows that there is plenty of good practice out there, but it can be patchy, and varies from sector to sector.”

Positive experience
In the research, disabled consumers also shared their experiences of when hospitality providers had got it right.

Hospitality: Key recommendations

Based on findings, the research recommends that hospitality venues:
• Make sure that websites and apps are fully accessible and easy to navigate
• Show pictures of the venue (with descriptions) which allow consumers to make their own judgements about accessibility.
• Indicate where the toilets are situated and whether they are accessible
• Clearly indicate aspects relating to access into the venue such as steps
• Tell people, in advance, how to book tables that are quieter or in darker/brighter areas.

To view ‘Hospitality: What disabled consumers choose to buy and why’, along with the full series of consumer reports, please visit Business Disability Forum’s website.