Venues should cater for disabled customers or lose out on Games revenue

Businesses within the hospitality sector should ensure they cater for disabled customers or risk setting themselves up to lose out on potential revenue during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

According to People 1st, which is the sector skills council for the hospitality industry, those with venues for hire and other operators should make sure their businesses are accessible and disability-friendly which will help increase their appeal to the 10 million disabled people currently in the UK.

In business terms, the figure translates to 20 per cent of a businesses’ customer base making it a market worth around £80bn. Businesses that fail to improve their facilities to welcome disabled customers are being “short sighted”, Brian Wisdom chief executive of People 1st said.

“Putting aside equality obligations, ensuring people with disabilities are served simply makes good business sense. There is a lot of focus on developing the infrastructure for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games but not enough on ensuring we have the softer skills needed to welcome the world to Britain and this is particularly true for meeting the needs of customers with disabilities,” he told Big Hospitality.

Marc Woods Paralympic gold-medallist and BBC commentator added: “Disability is always relative to the task in hand and there are some very simple things businesses can do to be welcoming to those with disabilities. Access is often an issue, but what makes a meaningful difference is the way in which people behave. Simply remembering that respectful and friendly service makes a lasting impression whether your customer is disabled or not.”