Disabled consumers in the UK have reported experiencing limited choice and feelings of disempowerment when choosing a place to eat or drink, with almost half of respondents (45%) saying that their choice of hospitality venue was limited by their disability or access needs.
This was according to a survey by Business Disability Forum (BDF), which looked at how people choose where to eat or drink and why.
Of the disabled consumers who had been involved in selecting or researching a hospitality venue in the last two years (165 respondents):
- 85% said that disability or access needs influenced their choice of restaurant, café or pub.
- 75% of respondents said that finding the information they needed was more challenging because of their disability or access needs.
- 45% observed that choice of hospitality venues was limited because of their disability or access needs.
- Only 39% said that they felt confident they had made the right choice of hospitality venue.
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.
While 48% said they relied on positive reviews and recommendations, 32% said they read reviews in the media, websites or comparison websites, such as TripAdvisor. 21% agreed that ‘When possible, I will filter or look for reviews and recommendations from people like me'.
Supported by Microsoft, the report was one of a series which examined buying experiences of the one in five people in the UK who have a disability. Business Disability Forum commissioned Open Inclusion to carry out the research, gathered through an online survey and focus groups via Open Inclusion's pan disability insight community.
Diane Lightfoot, chief executive of 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."
In the research, disabled consumers also shared their experiences of when hospitality providers had got it right. Based on the findings, the research recommended 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.