MMGY Global has released a new research report, Portrait of Travelers with Disabilities ™: Mobility and Accessibility,which it hopes will act as a call to action for every industry so they can better understand and meet the needs of the millions of people who use mobility aids, as well as their traveling companions. The survey found lodging and transportation accessibility are cited as the two biggest barriers to travel for those with mobility issues. Nearly all respondents (96%) say they have faced an accommodation problem while traveling, while 86% have experienced flight problems and 79% have experienced in-market transportation problems.

The ability to have access to the same experiences as travelers without disabilities should be a priority across the hospitality, travel and tourism industries, as travelers with mobility disabilities spend $58.2 billion per year on travel. They are going on leisure trips with nearly the same frequency as those without mobility issues, taking an average of 3.4 trips in the past 12 months and spending an average of $3,546 on leisure travel during that time frame.

The challenges for this group are very real and are found at every step of the travel-planning process and journey, according to the following highlights from the survey of more than 2,700 Americans with mobility disabilities and their caregivers and companions.

Transportation

  • Four in 10 have had their mobility aid lost or damaged by an airline.
  • Six in 10 have experienced extended wait times for mobility assistance at the airport before or after their flight.

Lodging

  • More than half (54%) have been given a room at check-in that did not match the room they booked.
  • 81% have dealt with inaccessible showers or tubs, and 52% have encountered beds that were too high for them to access.

The report holds many additional important insights for destination marketing organizations. When asked how travel destinations can better attract visitors with mobility disabilities, 8 in 10 travelers cited increased information on accessibility available prior to visiting (84%); infrastructure expansion and enhanced maintenance for areas such as sidewalks, ramps and mobile lifts (83%); and the promotion of accessible lodging options by the destination (81%). These travelers also cited the importance of being able to see multiple pictures of the exact room they are booking and virtual tours of places they plan to visit to determine if there are any obstacles that could make it difficult or impossible to move around with their mobility device.

MMGY Global will be donating all proceeds from sales of the report to the United Spinal Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including veterans, to live successful and fulfilling lives.

“United Spinal is grateful for the work of MMGY Global in raising awareness on the accessibility needs of travelers with mobility disabilities. As a wheelchair user, I know firsthand the barriers our community must overcome when traveling, including damage to mobility equipment at the airport to encountering unexpected accessibility issues at hotels and other venues. Identifying these issues is critical to ensuring travel is accessible to all,” said Vincenzo Piscopo, United Spinal’s President and CEO.

Methodology: Portrait of Travelers with Disabilities: Mobility and Accessibilityis based on a survey sample of 2,789 respondents, of which 2,375 have a disability and use a mobility aid, 1,761 have traveled in the past 12 months, and 414 respondents identified as caregivers or companions of someone with a mobility impairment. Data were collected from June 3 through June 21, 2022. All respondents were U.S. residents and a minimum of 18 years of age.

The survey was developed by MMGY Global’s research and insights operating brand, MMGY Travel Intelligence, with the guidance of a steering committee composed of disability advocates, senior business leaders from companies who primarily serve those with mobility disabilities, destination marketing organizations, and other travel and tourism professionals. MMGY Global thanks the report’s sponsors for their support of this study: NYC & Company, Pure Michigan, Tripadvisor, Visit California, Visit Colorado Springs and Visit Mesa.

About MMGY Travel Intelligence

MMGY Travel Intelligence is MMGY Global’s industry research and insights operating brand, offering proprietary data and research including MMGY Global’sPortrait of American Travelers® as well as DK Shifflet’sTRAVEL PERFORMANCE/MonitorSM, which is composed of the largest continuous consumer travel database in the industry. The organization’s services are designed to power travel industry decision-makers through consumer insights, travel performance data, and audience modeling and segmentation. To learn more about the extensive collection of research, analytics and strategy services, visit mmgyintel.com or email us at [email protected].

About United Spinal Association

Formed in 1946 by paralyzed veterans, United Spinal is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Americans with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D). Membership is free and open to all individuals with SCI/D, with over 53,000 members across 50 chapters nationwide. Known for its revolutionary advocacy efforts, United Spinal played a significant role in writing the Americans with Disabilities Act, provided important contributions to the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, and was instrumental in attaining sidewalk curb ramps and accessible public transportation in New York City, which created the standard accessibility model used in many United States cities.

About MMGY Global

MMGY Global is the world's leading integrated marketing firm specializing in the travel, hospitality and entertainment industries. With operations across the world, the award-winning organization maintains a global communications practice in all marketing channels, serving many of the world's premier travel and tourism brands. As a company dedicated to the travel industry, MMGY Global strives to create a connected, inclusive and peaceful world by promoting travel as a cultural bridge of understanding. For more information, visit mmgyglobal.com.

Rainey Stoll

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