Addressing Accessibility In Your DestinationJake Steinman
About Our Guest
This week on the Destination Marketing Podcast, we are joined by Jake Steinman, founder and CEO of travelAbility. Listen to learn about his foundation and how your destination can take steps towards becoming more accessible to those with disabilities.
"Our role is to help destinations prepare their industries for people with disabilities so that they will enjoy it more, and that they'll have accurate expectations of when they are there." -Jake Steinman
- Name: Adam Stoker
- Position: Co-founder and CEO of Relic
- Favorite Destination: Fiji
- Dream Destination: New Zealand
- Name: Jake Steinman
- Position: Founder and CEO TravelAbility
- Favorite Destination:
- Dream Destination: South African Safari
“Addressing Accessibility In Your Destination” – Show Notes and Highlights
- TravelAbility helps destinations prepare themselves, their hotels, attractions, museums, or their outdoor accessible for people with disabilities.
- Mesa, Arizona recently launched the campaign that they are certified as a destination that’s autism-friendly.
- Accessibility is a very safe thing to add to anybody’s EDNI initiative.
- Herd accessibility is scale and landing pages convincing destinations to create a landing page containing content about all their assets that have accessibility and linking directly to the URL of that attraction.
- Contact the local disability organizations in your area to have a good accessible landing page.
- Indianapolis’ Visit Indy is the best example of a successful landing page.
- 20% of the people in the United States have been identified as having some disability.
- Minnesota started with an accessibility page on their website.
- The accessibility landing page is good crowdsourcing information for suggestions and recommendations.
- 68% of the people with disabilities are more likely to travel on shoulder seasons because they have the time.
Resources Mentioned in the Podcast:
Jake Steinman: [0:00:00] Our role is really to help the destinations prepare their industries for people with disabilities so that they will enjoy it more and they’ll have more accurate expectations when they’re there.
Adam Stoker: [0:00:21] Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of the Destination Marketing Podcast. I’m your host, Adam Stoker. We’ve got a great show for you today. A friend of mine Will Seccombe introduced me to our guest today and said, hey you guys need to talk. After we talked, I was like, you know what, we need to have Jake on the podcast. So, I’ve got Jake Steinman. He’s with an organization called TravelAbility, with us on the show today. Jake, thanks for being here.
Jake Steinman: [0:00:46] Well, thank you for having me.
Adam Stoker: [0:00:48] I’m excited to have you. We’re going to be talking about a unique and important topic today and we’ll dive into that. But before we do, I’ve got a couple of icebreaker questions. I like to ask everybody that comes on the show. So, my first question is, if you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? What’s your dream destination?
Jake Steinman: [0:01:07] South Africa at Safari.
Adam Stoker: [0:01:10] A South African safari. You know what I like is how you had that cued up and ready. You didn’t have to think about it.
Jake Steinman: [0:01:18] Well, it’s an easy question to answer because it’s something I haven’t done and that I’ve always wanted to do. The other thing I wanted to do, if you ask me again is I would like to take an around the world tour, basically.
Adam Stoker: [0:01:36] Would that be a cruise?
Jake Steinman: [0:01:37] Not necessarily. Basically, by flight, but it would be that somebody would plan an itinerary for me.
Adam Stoker: [0:01:43] Oh man, how long is that trip?
Jake Steinman: [0:01:46] That would be probably six months, but that’s a pipe dream. That’s my pipe dream destination.
Adam Stoker: [0:01:54] Oh, man. I can’t imagine. I actually think that would be unbelievable because it’s one thing to visit tons of different places in the world over time, but to do it in such a short period of time, like six months, you would have some just culture shock almost every day as you’re experiencing these new destinations.
Jake Steinman: [0:02:15] Well actually, that’s the appeal of it frankly, because every place you go, you’re basically exposed to a different culture and you realize that in the US you see all these cultures in kind of one country and they’re trying to live together. So, it’s really interesting. Just sort of on an intellectual level, I would love to do that. I don’t know if it will ever happen.
Adam Stoker: [0:02:42] Yeah, it sounds fascinating. If you ever get the actual itinerary put together, we should do a whole another episode of the show, walking everyone through that itinerary because I think it’s a pretty complicated thing to put together.
Jake Steinman: [0:02:56] It is. I think one of the airlines has an around the world fair that they have that’s just like $30,000. I don’t remember how much it is, but somebody has that and that’s what got me thinking about it.
Adam Stoker: [0:03:10] Crazy as it sounds, $30,000 sounds like a deal.
Jake Steinman: [0:03:14] Yeah, it is a deal. It’s probably but you have to fly in coach.
Adam Stoker: [0:03:21] Yeah, some of those flights that wouldn’t be good.
Jake Steinman: [0:03:24] 45,000 miles in coach.
Adam Stoker: [0:03:26] Well, good stuff, Jake. I actually want to go back to South Africa. We didn’t spend enough time on South Africa, because that is a unique experience and you’re really well-traveled. I mean, you’ve been in the industry for a long time and we’ll get to that but South Africa is a place you haven’t been. What about experiencing that Safari is exciting to you? And who would you take with you?
Jake Steinman: [0:03:49] Well, I would take my family with me, my wife, and my son and his family with me, because it’s just a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And what appeals to me is that we would see all of this incredible wildlife in a completely different environment and everything is kind of taken care of. It’s sort of a luxury experience. It’s a luxurious idea, just conceptually. And then I’m just amazed at how much infrastructure there is.
One of the people on our advisory board by the name of John Morris, he’s a triple amputee that had three of his appendages were basically blown off in an explosion when the gas tank exploded. He came to one of our advisory board meetings and he was in Kenya. I mean, he was on a Safari, did sky travel, sea 10 days a year. I mean, he’s truly inspirational in terms of just the sheer volume of travel that he does. He’s got this sort of power wheelchair. He’s basically got one hand, one arm and a limp hand left. And he does it all with that. He’s just this tremendous, but he’s the one that got me thinking about it and telling me about it. I’m going to try to do it this year or next year.
Adam Stoker: [0:05:12] Great. I’ve got one more quick question about that, and that’s I was watching social media the other day, and it was actually a video of one of the safari trucks that they have out there. It was filled with people and a lion runs up to the truck and jumps into the passenger vehicle. I was thinking I’m about to watch people get mauled and destroyed. And the lion was actually friendly and was like asking people to pet it and stuff. It was fascinating to me.
Jake Steinman: [0:05:12] It was a shell. That lion was a shell. He’s probably perfectly trained and docile.
Adam Stoker: [0:05:53] Yeah, strategically placed to get bigger tips at the end of the ride, right?
Jake Steinman: [0:05:59] Yeah.
Adam Stoker: [0:06:01] Oh man. So, that doesn’t change your opinion on whether or not you want to go?
Jake Steinman: [0:06:06] No.
Adam Stoker: [0:06:08] Good. Well, hey, thanks for letting us learn a little bit about you and kind of what motivates your travel decisions. We want to learn more about you as a person. So, tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up in tourism.
Jake Steinman: [0:06:23] Well, I had a magazine and publishing company in the area of sports that I sold in 1993. I didn’t know what I wanted to do next but I wanted to do something where I could write off travel. So, I had one of our writers, he was like a foremost authority in the US on basically on sports like skiing and golf and the Japanese at this time. So, this was in the early ’90s when Japan had just opened up. So, he and I decided that we would put on a conference on attracting Japanese tourists for skiing and golf inbound into the US. So, I had no idea that there was IPW or a Pow Wow at that time and all these other events. I had no knowledge of them.
So, we started that way and we create this event called Active America China. It was Active America because of sort of the sports angle to it. So, we sort of did that. We created this conference where it was about inbound tourism from Japan and then outbound American sports products to Japan, exporting sports products. So, between the two of us, we had those two areas covered. We did that for about six years and then the US Department of Commerce closed. They had tour and travel offices in 16 countries and they closed it down. They closed all those offices down and there was no information.
So, I basically subscribed to the trade magazines in the top five or six inbound markets and where necessary I had them translated, the headlines translated whenever there was an article about the US. And I created a newsletter called the Inbound Report and just digesting those. That newsletter took off right away because there was no other information. So, that led to a couple of other conferences. The Receptive Operators Summit, these are events that Will’s company, Connect, bought from us.
Adam Stoker: [0:08:38] Right.
Jake Steinman: [0:08:40] So, ultimately I ended up selling that then it ended up we had a website for tour operators called TourOperatorLand. And then we had these three Receptive Operators Summits. We had an Active America Japan, Active America China, and then we had eTourism Summit that we founded in 2000, all about digital marketing. We created that event. I didn’t even care if anybody showed up. I was really just interested in the speakers because I didn’t know what to do with this website that we had.
Adam Stoker: [0:09:14] Wow, what a strategy, right? It’s like, hey, I’d like to learn something, why don’t I put on a conference about it?
Jake Steinman: [0:09:19] Well, I learned that you could learn a lot about a topic in which you knew nothing by putting on a conference because you find out who the experts are, the speakers. And when you call somebody and ask them to speak, it’s just like a license to snoop. They open right up because they’re interested in speaking. You can learn a lot about something in a very short period of time. So, that’s how. And then eTourism sort of limped along for 10 years and then it just sort of exploded after that, when we sort of started focusing on DMOs.
And then we built that up and in 2018 I sold everything to Connect. Before the sale went through, before it was signed, I got an award from the City of Sausalito where my office is, proclaiming North American Journeys, which is the name of our company, Travel Agent of the Year. So, I’m getting this award and I’m saying, what is this? I’m not a travel agent. I can’t even plan travel for myself outside of just one city.
Adam Stoker: [0:10:35] Yeah, you haven’t put together your world itinerary yet.
Jake Steinman: [0:10:38] No, I wouldn’t, believe me. I wouldn’t get very far. So, I ended up getting this award and I didn’t think anything of it. It was printed somewhere and people started showing up and knocking on my door asking for help planning travel. Half of them had somebody with a disability that they were planning travel for a family member. So, they wanted to go, nowhere to go. So, someone wanted to know about Hawaii and someone else wanted to go to National Parks in Utah. They just didn’t know where to turn. So, they thought, well, will just go to the Travel Agent of the Year.
Adam Stoker: [0:11:20] Oh, wow.
Jake Steinman: [0:11:22] So, they came to my office and I knew nothing. And then I started trying to help them. So, I went on Google and you couldn’t find anything. After about the 8th person, over the course of a year, I thought, I’ve always been fairly adapted sort of seeing patterns before other people see them, I guess. I don’t know. But it just dawned on me that these were half of the people where some had children with autism or they had a disability, but most of them it was with an aging parent. The parent was usually paying for the trip.
So I’m thinking, well, here I am, I’m in that cohort of baby boomers who will age into a disability for lucky. So, I started to see this and that’s when I thought here’s 77 million baby boomers. I started doing some research and I find out that 40% of the people after they turn 65 have self-identified as having a disability. I think this is going to be a pretty big market that people should be aware of. This would be a fun thing and kind of a purposeful way to give back to the industry to create something like this. So, that’s how I started TravelAbility.
What we do is we help the destinations prepare themselves, and their hotels, and their attractions, and their museums, or their outdoor. We’re basically telling them this is a market that is coming. This is where the ADA laws are now. There’s like a physical baseline, physical infrastructure, but there’s just no information available about other things. So, people sort of assume they’re going to let us go to our hotel. There will be an accessible room. That room will have kind of a roll-in shower and it will have a bed. But usually, what happens is the bed is too high. They can’t get into it. They can’t transfer from a wheelchair. And then, the roll-in shower, in many cases has the showerhead in the location that’s too far from the seat so they can’t reach it. So, there are these little nuances that people just aren’t aware of on people who think they’re accessible. So, really, there is no information. So, people who were knocking on my door, it’s really a leap of faith for them to go somewhere because what’s out there, they’d have to call everybody they want, every entity that they want to go to see if it’s how accessible it is. And then you’re getting somebody on the phone and they don’t know.
So, our role is really to help the destinations prepare their industries for people with disabilities so that they will enjoy it more and they’ll have more accurate expectations when they’re there. So, I think that the destinations are uniquely positioned to do that because many of them are involved in training their industries for customer service because that’s their brand. And then while they’re doing that, they can train for accessibility. So, we’re focusing on kind of the training side and just sort of trying to figure out where the nuances are that allow people to take baby steps so they can get involved in this and then they can do more. That’s sort of what we’re focusing. We don’t really deal with the direct consumer, the disabled traveler itself. We’re really helping to put an infrastructure that will make travel easier for them.
Adam Stoker: [0:15:19] Yeah, you’re consulting with the destinations and helping them prepare the way for more disability travelers to be able to come to the destination.
Jake Steinman: [0:15:28] Yeah. So, we’re not formally consulting. We basically have an annual conference that we do which is going to be in Tampa with Connect this year in August 31. And then we have a website that is basically a hub for any travel company that wants to level up their accessibility. It has tools and it has resources. We have a newsletter. We have a podcast called Explorable that’s really put together by two members of our advisory board who are blind. They have their own podcast that they do. And then we have the landing page initiative. And we’re going to have another area of our website for training videos, for accessibility training videos. And we created a shark tank for adaptive products called the LaunchPad, which that was April 1st and we had 15 different products that we identified out of it.
So, we have this sort of product base because people need to know about these products that exist because some of them are just very simple and free or very low cost and they can help them become more accessible and that’s what we’re looking at.
Adam Stoker: [0:16:49] Yeah, I was looking at your website and I saw that on your board. There’s actually a mutual friend of ours on there. His name is Mark Garcia from Mesa, Arizona. And they recently launched the campaign that they are certified as a destination that’s autism-friendly. Were you involved in any of that process? Do you have any insight into what they went through to get that setup?
Jake Steinman: [0:17:11] Well, I have some insight. I didn’t have anything to do with it. I wasn’t involved in terms of the conception of it or anything but I sort of watched them as they went through the process. They used a company that was very rigorous called IBCCES. And they do certification for nurses and basically in the medical community. And then they moved into autism a couple of years ago. So, they’ve certified a number of different resorts, family beach resorts. I think they approached Mark, and Mark has an autistic son. So, he was very favorably disposed to getting involved with this. And then he was able to convince his industry to embrace it. That was a lengthy process and expensive. And I think he has the most autism-friendly destination in the world. And it will stay that way because I don’t think any other destination is able to do what he did, which was basically have different departments in the city go through a certification process. I guess, it was an e-learning thing but they had to go through all these things.
He’s got the police department, the fire department, the city managers. A couple of hundred people go through not only his industry, not only the attractions and the restaurants and all these… like hundreds of people go through this. He financed a lot of it. I don’t think any other destination is going to go to that. And what will happen is people with autistic families will basically go there once and find that there’s so much to do there. They just keep coming back.
Adam Stoker: [0:19:10] Yeah. Well, I guess that’s one of the things that I find interesting is that the point of what Mark did. It was a passion project. It hit close to home for him. And the point was to create an autism-friendly destination. The unintended consequence or the byproduct of that is all of the press and recognition that came along with that. And I think for destinations that are listening, I think it’s important to note that you do have an opportunity if you’re going to do what I would say is the right thing and make your destination as accessible as possible. That there are other benefits as well to doing something like that that are going to help generate more and more visitation.
Jake Steinman: [0:19:53] Well, yeah. I think you’re right there. I mean, the PR that he received, and I think disability is one of those areas that is not fraught with basically partisan politics.
Adam Stoker: [0:20:08] Right.
Jake Steinman: [0:20:09] I mean, you get in diversity and that’s all a reaction to historical racism, institutional racism. But that’s fraught with politics. And you get into other areas that end up getting political. And it causes internal issues that are unforeseen. But disability is one of those areas that are just bipartisan. I mean, I watched the State of the Union messages every year and even during Trump’s administration, he would mention that they were going to do something. There’s some initiative around disabled Americans and people from both sides of the aisle were clapping and standing. It hasn’t been politicized.
So, I think it’s a very safe thing to add to anybody’s EDNI initiative and it enhances it. This is something that I kind of learned that it’s a very neutral and positive thing that people want to do partly because they can see themselves becoming disabled at some point in their lives.
Adam Stoker: [0:21:19] Right. I think that’s a great point. You talked about accessibility and it brings me kind of to a principle that you and I talked about before, the principle of herd accessibility, which it’s a great time to be using that term because we’ve all been talking about herd immunity for a little over a year. So, herd accessibility seems like a much more familiar term today than it would have been a year ago.
Jake Steinman: [0:21:45]: I wouldn’t have used it a year ago because I would have even known what it was. So, I would have thought it might have had to do with something with cattle. So, I wouldn’t have used it then. But it just sort of popped into my head that this is really what we’re shooting for is herd accessibility through the destinations.
Adam Stoker: [00:22:06] What does that mean?
Jake Steinman: [00:22:08] Well it basically means scale and landing pages convincing destinations to create a landing page containing content about all their assets that have accessibility and linking directly to the URL of that attraction, that restaurant, that hotel whatever it is so that people with disabilities can just go to their website and get the information they need about, “This is what I can do here.” I mean when people are knocking on my door, the first question they asked was, “Where can I go?” They were interested in destinations. The second question is really, “Where do I stay?” The third question was, “What is there to do there?”
By just aggregating and doing some research and aggregating the content that the destinations have that they may not even be aware of is just a huge thing for people. What we’re doing our goal is to scale the landing pages. We had a research team basically do some research and they looked for landing pages on 115 DMO websites, all 50 states and 65 other cities that had some tourism product. They found 45 landing pages.
Adam Stoker: [00:23:27] Oh, wow.
Jake Steinman: [00:23:28] Those 45 landing pages is just the average. I had them record how much time it took them to find each one and it was three and a half minutes on average that was the average time it took to find one. Well, no one who’s looking for an accessible landing page for disability information that can accommodate them. They’re not going to spend three and a half minutes looking for that.
Adam Stoker: [00:23:51] No. No way.
Jake Steinman: [00:23:52] I looked at it and then I thought, well, we have the sort of relationship with destinations because we’ve been working with them for so long. We can probably help scale this and help them understand how to do it and how easy it is and how to start and what it should look like. They have the idea that they have to be perfect. It’s just the opposite because every single disability has a spectrum, it’s not just autism. Yes, there are people with physical disabilities who need a lift to get into a bed because they can’t get in on their own and they don’t have anybody. There are other people that just, they’re on a walker. They can’t get in their own bed. They don’t even need a room.
Adam Stoker: [00:24:41] Your vision for this then if I understand correctly, is that you want anybody with disabilities that’s looking to book a trip anywhere they want to go that the information that they need to know in order to successfully visit that destination is readily available to them. You want to have landing pages on every destination website that gives that information and it’s easy to find. Give me an example of some of the content that should be on every destination’s landing page about accessibility.
Jake Steinman: [00:25:14] Our vision for an accessible landing page is it’s like a living organism that’s a work in progress because you can’t be accessible for everybody. It should contain the first thing somebody should do is contact the local disability organizations in their area. For example, if I was in Omaha Nebraska. I would contact the local muscular dystrophy organization, the local blind organization, or the local hearing organization. They have these organizations in every, even medium-sized cities or counties. I would form a meeting with them and get their input as to what you should do and what’s available for people with the disabilities that they cover. They would tell you about the Low-Hanging Fruit. These are great restaurants to go to for people who are blind.
The people who have done this correctly like Indianapolis, “Visit Indy” is the best example of a city that I’ve seen anywhere with an accessible landing page. I spoke with the CEO there, he has got a son who’s got MS. He was motivated and he met with all these different organizations. They gave him ideas of where to go and where they go and where their members go and what they talk about. He started with that. He had this idea and then suddenly had all these different elements. He had five or six museums and then he had outdoor trails. He had a zoo here and then he had different attractions and things. He put them together and then he actually used those organizations to find locals who had visited these places. He created a testimonial of stories using actual and locals, who are people with disabilities.
I mean look at the local community. I mean the CDC basically had a study two years ago that about 20% of the people in the United States have been identified as having some disability and they probably have family members. The ones that don’t have a disability have a percentage of them have family members who were extended family who are disabled. They need to know what to do when they come to visit them. He was able to get a testimonial. He has a whole story section on his page and then he’s put it together into an accessible itinerary. I think that’s the most fully developed accessible page that I’ve seen.
From that you go down to something like Minnesota that started their site, they revamped their website. They started with an accessibility page that had four items on it. I thought, “Wow this is really bad.”
Adam Stoker: [00:28:26] Yeah.
Jake Steinman: [00:28:27] Just the four items but over the course of time, now they’ve got like 15 or 20 items but it kind of grows as they find more things. What we recommend is sort of like a Wiki approach to it. They should have kind of a pop-up window that says, “We’re always learning. We’re not perfect. If you find things that are incorrect or if you find things that we don’t have, just let us know. There’s a little dialog box and that goes right to the website content manager.
Adam Stoker: [00:29:03] Well that’s great because you’re actually crowdsourcing some of that information —
Jake Steinman: [00:29:07] Exactly.
Adam Stoker: [00:29:08] You don’t have to do all the research yourself.
Jake Steinman: [00:29:09] Yeah. You basically have people who are visiting, crowdsourcing the information for you and updating. It’s evergreen because of the ADA accessibility doesn’t actually deteriorate. It’s not something that goes away because it’s just something that was accessible 10 years ago is not suddenly going to be inaccessible.
Adam Stoker: [00:29:33] Right.
Jake Steinman: [00:29:34] It has all these different advantages. It’s not hard to do but I think people are confused because they’re afraid they’re going to be incomplete.
Adam Stoker: [00:29:45] Right. Well, it is going to take a lot of work, right because to get it set up and to do the research, I mean, to meet with your local organizations that support disabilities. It is work but that takes us to a little bit of the next step in our conversation that you and I discussed. You told me that there are two mindsets. There’s an inclusion mindset and there’s a compliance mindset? What are the differences between those two mindsets? Why is it really important to make a decision which mindset you’re going to have?
Jake Steinman: [00:30:16] Well Adam since we spoke, I found another one. There’s a third mindset, which I’ll tell you about. Really it’s when you’re talking about the mindset of the industry, the attractions and the destinations, the hotels and the people who make up the experience, their mindset is based on their own lived experiences. For example, if you take a museum, for example, one of the mindsets is really they have a mindset for inclusion. They want to be inclusive for everybody. That’s usually museums, attractions because they also have to be available for the local community. There’s 20% of the local community have some form of disability. I find the museums to be the most accessible of all, especially ones that are getting some government grant money. They have to have an ADA on-site and ADA Coordinator.
Adam Stoker: [00:31:13] Right.
Jake Steinman: [00:31:14] One of the staff members has to coordinate that and the museums have their own ADA conference. They go down to dementia. They have dementia programs and Alzheimer’s programs. I mean tons and tons of programs. You just start with the museums right there because they’re very inclusive. You have others that have had, take the hotel community. The hotel community in California, for example, is where I’m located. At our conference last year, we had a hotel CEO. We asked her, “What’s your attitude? What’s been your attitude around accessibility?” She was a friend of my wife’s. This is the only way we would get somebody like this because you would never normally get a hotel owner or a management company CEO to talk about this. She was very candid. She said, “Well, when we see somebody with a disability, the first thing we think of is a lawsuit and we held meetings.” Their hotels hold like daily meetings in the morning, where they just kind of go over everything for the day and who’s checked in that they need to… When they see somebody with a disability, she told me that checked in. She thinks they’re sent there by a lawyer to look for infractions that they can sue for. That’s her lived experience because that’s what’s happened to her.
Adam Stoker: [00:32:39] Wow.
Jake Steinman: [00:32:42] That’s how you get a compliance mentality. They are trying to do everything they can to be compliant with the law. That’s their focus. I was in Tampa three weeks ago and I met with the regional director for the Marriott there. I was just asking him. I said, “What’s been your experience with accessibility?” He said, “Well we just renovated the hotel and completely build this new hotel across the street. I wanted to put the accessible rooms next to the elevator on each floor in the same spot. Then I find out that doesn’t conform to the ADA and we have to distribute them evenly all over. It cost them more money to do that. It doesn’t even serve the disability community that well because they don’t want to have to take a wheelchair to the farthest reaches of the hotel. He looks at that as this is the government telling me what to do. That’s their mentality. Their lived experience is the government’s telling me what to do and they’re telling me to do this. It’s costing me more and it’s not benefiting. It doesn’t make sense.
This is the mentality that they have. I think it’s largely in the hotel community. They worry about lawsuits. In California, Florida and New York, they’ve had to deal with all these basically drive-by lawyers, the fine clients, and the disabled clients. They will go in and they’ll file a complaint. That’s their mentality and so the trick is how do you fight that.
The third one that I found that I didn’t tell you about is really the marketing. They have a mentality, there’s a marketing opportunity.
Adam Stoker: [00:34:27] What kind of person would look for the marketing opportunity in something?
Jake Steinman: [00:34:31] A DMO.
Adam Stoker: [00:34:33] Well I —
Jake Steinman: [00:34:35] That was a rhetorical question. Right?
Adam Stoker: [00:34:36] Well that’s my job. It is to find the marketing angle in everything. I think you’re definitely starting to get into at least a little bit of my — I’d like to think I’ve got an inclusive mindset, but I’m also always looking for the way to message it.
Jake Steinman: [00:34:51] Well, the inclusive mindset is really something that they’re doing basically because they want to be inclusive for everybody because it’s a form of advanced customer service. That’s really what it is. If you are inclusive for everybody, they use the example of curb cuts on streets for people in wheelchairs. Those little ramps that come up on the street.
Adam Stoker: [00:35:13] Right.
Jake Steinman: [00:35:14] They help people in wheelchairs, but they also help mothers pushing baby strollers, roller skaters, bicyclists, anybody that has a wheel. Just that has to deal with that with people carrying luggage. That’s the idea around universal design. Those are people that are just sort of customer service oriented.
Adam Stoker: [00:35:37] Right.
Jake Steinman: [00:35:38] The marketing side is the people who are like you and I who see an opportunity that, “Hey, wait a minute, 77 million people in addition to the people who are…“ I look at it and I think, “Okay if you’re accessible for people who are disabled today, you’re going to be accessible for 77 million baby boomers, 40% of whom will age into a disability after their 65. They control something like 70% of the discretionary income in the US. They stand to inherit $13 trillion dollars from their aging parents and they have the time. I saw an AARP report that is something like 68% travel in the shoulder or low season periods. It just makes sense. They have the time, they can go when it’s cheaper, they can go when it’s less crowded.
Adam Stoker: [00:36:34] Right.
Jake Steinman: [00:36:35] The marketing mindset looks at that and says, “Okay, I’m going to use the people who are disabled today as the canary in the coal mine. If I can market to them and they’re happy, then, we’re going to have a market that will be a big market that our competitors won’t have.
Adam Stoker: [00:36:53] On top of that, Jake, what I think an opportunity is there is every destination is looking for shoulder season business, right. Like most major tourism destinations don’t have a hard time filling peak season. It’s shoulder season that’s tough. If you start to look at it that way with the marketing mindset, if we know that people with disabilities are more likely to travel on shoulder seasons because they have the time, I think they also benefit from it not being so busy and not having so many people to navigate through. That’s a great way to fill shoulder seasons.
Jake Steinman: [00:37:29] Yeah. It essentially sort of segues into the sustainability area. Right.
Adam Stoker: [00:37:35] Right.
Jake Steinman: [00:37:37] Just because it is actually an additional way to create more sustainability in the destination because it’s dispersing the travel base. You see all these advantages and but I wanted to tell you because I had organized a panel at Esto in 2019. There were about 980,000 people there that year. They had a breakout on accessibility and then they had three or four other breakouts. There were 60 people in the accessibility breakouts and the others had over 200 people.
I did another session at DI about two months ago. That was titled “Adding Accessibility to your ED&I Initiative.” There were about 21 people in that session. It was virtual out of 170. It was 6% 2 years ago and that was 13% a couple of months ago. We’re kind of going in the right direction. That’s like 87% of DMOs think that accessibility is a nice thing to have but it’s not a must-have because there are other things. It’s not a priority. They had other breakouts that were more prioritized.
Adam Stoker: [00:38:50] Wow.
Jake Steinman: [00:38:51] In between nice to have and must-have is really kind of cool to have and that’s kind of what we’re shooting for. By kind of telling people and I think we have a tailwind behind us because there’s so much evidence that is seeping into the mainstream because Unilever just came out with deodorant for people who have a disability. Nike developed the shoe for people who have a disability and you have Crip Camp and the Sound of Metal. Both were nominated as Best Picture, one for documentary and one for a motion picture at the Oscars. You have the Good Doctor.
Adam Stoker: [00:39:41] Yeah we actually love that show.
Jake Steinman: [00:39:45] The media has sort of glammed onto this and the consumer product companies. There are about six or seven modeling agencies, talent and modeling agencies that basically make, there are agents for people with disabilities who are these influencers and bloggers and models. I think part of that is really kind of seeping into the mainstream. They start to see that and they think, “Wow, Nike’s doing this. This has to be cool.”
Adam Stoker: [00:40:12] Yeah. Jake, I’m excited that the tides are turning and the next step I think is for destinations to really step up. I mean the minimum is to create a landing page so that people can understand what accessibility options there are. The next step is to build out the infrastructure to support more accessibility. I think it’s been really good to have this conversation. Unfortunately, we’re kind of up against our timeline here, but Jake if people want to learn more, which there’s obviously more to learn, how can they learn more from you, get ahold of you or your organization?
Jake Steinman: [00:40:48] Well, they go to travelability.net, that’s our organization. We have a website. There’s a lot of content on there that can help them.
Adam Stoker: [00:40:57] Great.
Jake Steinman: [00:40:58] We’re putting on a virtual event conference on June 24th for 4 hours. They can go to that and just look that up and then we’re going to have a live event for a day and a half in Tampa. There are ways that you come to learn about that and to meet people who are the influencers and people with the lived experience that can help them understand more.
Adam Stoker: [00:041:20] Perfect. Well, Jake, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your experience with us. I think you’re doing something really great for the industry and I’m excited to see where it goes.
Jake Steinman: [00:41:32] Okay. Thanks, Adam.
Adam Stoker: [00:41:33] Absolutely. Everybody that’s listening please make sure that you go to travelability.net to learn more. I appreciate Jake coming on today and sharing it with us. If you enjoyed today’s content, please don’t forget to leave us a rating or a review and other than that we’ll see you next week.
Okay, guys, events are such a big part of our normal and it’s so fun to see events on the calendar for the first time in a very long time. Coming up at the eTourism Summit this fall is the 4th Annual eTourism Summit Excellence Awards or the eTSY Awards in partnership with the Expedia Group Media Solutions and the Destination Marketing Podcast that may be familiar to you guys. It recognizes and celebrates the best of the 2022 to 2021 campaigns and programs with awards in a dozen original categories. Help eTourism Summit recognize the best of digital tourism marketing by submitting your entry by June 28, 2021.
Winners will be announced and celebrated at the live event in September. If you want to submit some of your work, the entry fee is only $99. All entries will be judged by a jury of your peers on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 is blah and 10 is heavenly. You’ll probably fall somewhere in between. It’s based on the following criteria, strategy and objective creativity, impact, and measurability. You guys this is going to be an amazing event. It’s so good to see these awards happening and there were some incredible work campaigns, strategies, innovations that came out of the last year. You need to submit to the eTSY awards. Submit, show off. Let’s see your work and we’ll see you in September down at the eTourism Summit.
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