Birmingham NEC Group’s Ticket Factory agency has launched an online booking service for disabled customers.
The move comes following years of lobbying from groups, including Attitude is Everything, to make booking more accessible for disabled attendees.
Disabled customers were historically required to call a separate booking line to purchase tickets. Now, as part of The Ticket Factory’s integration with user-led initiative the Access Card, customers will be able to reserve and pay for tickets online, as well as through The Ticket Factory Contact Centre.
Stuart Cain, MD at The Ticket Factory, said: “Why are agents and venues making disabled people feel inferior?” Why should they have to call a contact centre and try to explain their situation to somebody down the end of a phone, especially when those without disabilities can book online with ease?
“We’ve been banging on about this for ages and it’s taken until now to find the Access Card – the missing piece of the jigsaw. Regardless of who you are, buying a ticket should be fast, simple and fun.”
The Access Card, designed as a ‘proof of disability’, highlights the needs an individual card-holder has. The online technology generates an instant understanding of each customer’s disability through a series of symbols shown online and on the card, which automatically highlights any requirements they might need – such as free companion tickets or the ability to choose a wheelchair bay.
The launch of this new online service is in collaboration with the NEC Group venues Genting Arena and Barclaycard Arena, whose box offices are run exclusively by The Ticket Factory.
The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR), which has been encouraging improvements to disabled customers’ ticketing services for two years, welcomed the news.
“We are so pleased that The Ticket Factory, a STAR member, is integrating its booking system with the Access Card,” said Jonathan Brown, STAR’s chief executive. “This is a major leap forward for accessible ticketing.”