The first week of January will have seen many thousands of broken resolutions for the New Year. We all start with great intentions until reality strikes in early January.
Giving up something, saving money and changing well established habits are hard so I want to encourage conference venues to do one positive thing this year. That is to concentrate on the business benefits of attracting people with disabilities to your venues. VisitEngland recently identified the value of the market for stay away from home and day visits as worth over £12bn.
This means there will be a significant business benefit and give you a return on your investment in time and money.
I know I have written on this subject before but 2015 will see a significant new marketing initiative by VisitEngland and so the importance of the market is heightened. It will involve eight accessible venues across the country and will involve training both on and off line.
Training about accessibility is really important as it will change staff attitudes and ensure they are not afraid of going to the assistance of a person with a disability. This was shown to be a major issue when BT published research showing that 65 per cent of the general public would not go to the help of a person with a disability because of fear, fear of doing something wrong or making the situation worse.
My wish for 2015 as is that the conference industry will take the needs of people with disabilities seriously. Let it be a New Year resolution that you keep in 2015 and beyond. Not only is it the right thing to do it also makes great business sense. So make sure you ask conference organisers about the possibility of delegates with an impairment at the time of the reservation rather than on the day as an afterthought or when a disabled person makes a complaint.
Any comments? Email Paul Colston