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Co-operative Travel to improve service to disabled customers

(15 February 2010)

The Co-operative Travel is to improve its service to disabled travellers, after a survey revealed disabled people lack confidence in booking holidays through high street travel agents.

The study, carried out with UK disabled tourism charity Tourism for All, found that 85% of respondents did not believe agents understood the needs of disabled travellers, and that 78% did not think they were catered for by the high street.

The survey also found that 93% of disabled travellers found their choice of holidays restricted due to their disability.

The Co-operative Travel has launched a new service aimed specifically at disabled travellers. Staff from 40 branches have been trained to make sure they are up to speed with all aspects of holidays for people with special travel needs.

The branches will also carry a guide that contains information such as airport facilities and details of key travel partners in the UK and abroad.

The Co-operative Travel has also ensured that the specialist network of branches is Disability Discrimination Act-compliant, with clear access, power assisted doors, portable hearing loops and visual alarms in store.

The long-term aim is to provide training and compliance across its entire network of 410 branches.

Head of consultancy at Tourism for All Brian Seaman, the charity that provides holiday information service for disabled and older people, welcomed The Co-operative Travel initiative.

He said: "We have conducted independent research in the past by sending disabled travellers to the high street to find a disabled-friendly holiday to Majorca," he said. "In every case, not one travel agent was able to offer a product that might have resulted in a booking.

"The agents had great difficulty in finding suitable accommodation on the island and this lengthy process, which sometimes took over an hour, would have been frustrating for the client.

"Furthermore, when it came to visiting and checking the accommodation on the island [they did find], it turned out not to be as accessible for disabled people as the agents had suggested."


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