With all the buzz regarding the new Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which were officially released in June 2018, you have might’ve heard a few suggestions on how to improve your website. In fact, there’s a chance that you’ve been so inundated with information that you’re not sure where to start.
There are plenty of articles and even an amazing webinar from our lead designer Andrea on how to make your site more accessible—and we at Tourism Tiger are happy to help you create a new website if your current one isn’t doing your tour business justice. However, accessibility doesn’t stop there! That’s why we’ve put together some suggestions to help you learn how to make your tour business more welcoming to more customers.
Make Sure All Destinations Are Accessible
When you originally planned your tour route, how much attention did you pay to ramps, handrails, and street conditions? Does your walking tour take patrons to a viewpoint that requires a walk up stairs? Have you considered alternative routes so that guests don’t have to walk along cobblestone streets?
Even if you didn’t consider these factors when you originally created your tours, it’s still possible to rework your tours to incorporate them now. Jenna Blumenfeld at Arival wrote a post on creating wheelchair accessible tours, and it has some great tips for things you need to consider along the route. While it is unlikely that every monument you visit is going to be accessible to all guests, you should do your best to provide alternatives.
Keep in mind that these alternatives don’t need to be offered exclusively to those with mobility issues. Perhaps you can offer ten minutes or so to climb the steps to the top of a church while the rest of your group uses that time to spend more time exploring the interior. Sena Williams from Accessible Travel Solutions put it well: “You never want to have an experience where you’re like, ‘here’s the Vatican, but you’re not going inside.’ Focus on what travelers can do instead of what they can’t do.” By offering the entire group the option between two activities, you are less likely to alienate certain guests or make them feel they’ve been left out of some important experience.
Make It Clear What Is and Isn’t Accessible
If you’re running a tour to a certain location that isn’t accessible but can’t be replaced—the Blarney Stone, for example—make it clear on your website. Despite their best efforts, it is unlikely that anyone can retrofit the Blarney Castle with an elevator to give guests who can’t traverse the stairs another option. By providing your guests with the most information possible, you allow them to make an informed decision about whether or not your tour is right for them.
While you may be worried about missing out on sales or firmly believe that missing a non-accessible site isn’t really that big of a deal, it’s unfair to your guests with disabilities to not make that information clear. The last thing that someone wants when going on a tour to a place they love is to find out that they can’t see it all. They may still decide to go, but they will then have the opportunity to take your tour completely informed about the limitations. Make this clear ahead of time and be honest about the kind of accommodations you and your tour company are capable of making. It’s not only the decent thing to do: it’s good business practice.
Have Custom or Private Options Available
Maybe your existing tour isn’t a good fit for guests with certain disabilities, but you still don’t want to leave anyone out. Perhaps you know of a different route that you don’t take on your normal path because it’s less convenient, but it would allow you to avoid a pesky cobblestone street. In cases like these, it might be worth creating a custom tour specifically for these guests.
One way to do it, like our client Evans Guide, is to have your guests send an inquiry form if they’re particularly worried about some aspect of the tour. In the case of Evans Guide, he specifically refers to guests concerned about the walking pace. Maybe you can think of something more relevant to your tour—just keep in mind that it’s good practice to consider that other guests may have concerns as well. You may be able to accommodate visitors with Celiac disease on your food tours with a little reworking, but this might be too difficult to implement on all of your non-customized tours.
Someone who is a diabetic may be worried about certain institutions not letting them bring in food. To resolve this, you can reach out to said institutions ahead of time to make sure it’s okay or amend the itinerary to include appropriate food stops, if necessary. By allowing your guests space to tell you about any of their specific needs and creating private tours specifically with them in mind, you can create accessible tours that suit all parties.
If you’re dedicating time to making sure your website is accessible for all types of users, you may want to ensure that your experiences are as well. Take steps today to making your tour business as accessible as possible, and get ready to welcome more visitors!
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