AMEX GBT reveals lack of accessible business travel limits career prospects for UK disabled workers

AMEX GBT reveals lack of accessible business travel limits career prospects for UK disabled workers

50% have had to decline a job due to unable to fulfill travel needs of role

American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) has published research findings that reveal disabled workers in the UK still feel unable to travel on business. 

The 500 survey respondents cited inaccessible travel and accommodations services, a lack of knowledge about their travel needs, and prejudice towards disabled travelers as the main obstacles. 

As a result, many believe their professional progress is being limited.

The survey, conducted in June 2024, found that of the respondents 50% have had to decline a job offer because they felt unable to fulfil travel requirements associated with the role and  65% feel unable to travel on business because of their disability.

It found that 61% have had to cancel a crucial trip because of accessibility issues, while 63% believe able-bodied colleagues progress faster in their careers because travel is more accessible to them. 

The survey showed 74% consider business travel a crucial element of career progress but that 48% say there is a lack of understanding about their travel needs.

31% believe hotel accommodations are inadequate [for disabled guests] but more worryingly 37% of respondents have had disheartening travel encounters with "rudeness and prejudice". 

Derek Moxam, an accessibility advocate and Agent Coach at Amex GBT, said: “There are an array of career barriers facing people with disabilities, particularly as it relates to business travel and meetings attendance. 

"I’ve encountered many of the challenges identified in the survey: a lack of awareness and understanding of my needs, inadequate accommodations and services, and the lack of standardization and experience between airlines, hotels, ground transport and ground services.

"These obstacles can be incredibly discouraging and limit our professional and personal growth.” 

Andrew Crawley, president of Amex GBT, said: “The statistics paint a stark picture. 

"The benefits of business travel for both the employer and employee are clear - deals are completed more efficiently, and collaboration and networking are much more meaningful face-to-face. 

"There are around 9.5 million people of working age with a disability in the UK, but only 5.1 million are employed1. 

"Employers who prioritise the needs of people with disabilities are accessing a significant talent pool that others are missing out on.”

To support disabled travellers, respondents suggested improvements such as working with travel companies that have built-in accessibility support (29%), ensuring contingency plans are in place in case of disruption (27%), and providing detailed travel plans with information and pictures of accessible modifications (19%).

Nearly one in four of the working-age population are classed as disabled in the UK. 

To address the challenges faced by disabled travellers, Amex GBT created the first end-to-end accessibility solution of its kind to support corporate travelers with visible and invisible disabilities at every stage of their business trip. 

This includes onboarding, booking, trip disruption, and traveler preferences through a consolidated framework that combines service-based solutions, advocacy, and technology.

In December 2023, Amex GBT announced that IBM became the first client to launch the new solution, which includes the Travelers Requiring Specialty Assistance (TRSA) desk. 

The TRSA desk provides access to a specialist team of certified travel consultants who deliver an inclusive and distinguished service experience for travelers with diverse needs. 

Since its launch, the global accessibility solution has added Salesforce as a client and has several more Amex GBT customers in various stages of onboarding.

Moxam added: “Amex GBT’s accessibility solution helps solve the challenges disabled travelers face and alleviates the coordination, finding information, ensuring that reservations are made, equipment is ready, and companions have the right paperwork across airlines, hotels and ground transportation.”

Since inception, more than a dozen customers have adopted the accessibility solution into their travel programmes and is also available for Amex GBT employees.