20 november 2016

On the first of December 2012, the new EU 1177/2010 Dec 2012 regulation comes into force. For anyone working as a Travel Agent, Tour Operator and/or selling cruise related services this regulation should be of concern to them.

At present it is the client who has an implied responsibility to inform an agent, cruise line, etc that they have either a visible or hidden disability in order to ensure that they are assisted in having the correct cabin and other services made available to them.

This all changed in December 2012 as the onus shifts to the providers to find out if a client requires any ‘special services’ and disabled people do not necessarily have to declare their disabilities. It has been suggested that this will lead to an increase in litigation against travel companies however this need not be so.

The key issue in a relationship between, for instance, a travel agent and their client is open communication, building trust between them in that (a) the agent has all the information required to do their job correctly and (b) that the client trusts the agent to offer the best solutions for their particular needs, this applies to all clients alike, (able/dis-abled).

In pure marketing terms all sales are simply an exchange of something that one entity has that the other entity wants. Where problems lie is in what communications specialists like to call ‘interference’ or more simply put, the two entities are not communicating well and cannot get a successful exchange that satisfies both parties to the full.

So putting aside legislation, if we as disabled people understood that the ‘interference’ experienced by (in our example) the travel agent is their lack of knowledge and understanding of our disabilities, who better to educate them than ourselves? After all when they know you and what your needs are you do not have to go and train a new agent do you?!

The agent on the other hand needs to understand that the ‘interference’ experienced by the disabled is the stress and indignity of continually having to explain what you need in order to get what others expect to receive without facing a barrage of questions. So in order to alleviate this, Travel Agents should take it upon themselves to be educated about the potential needs of future disabled clients.

Three key words then to meet the requirements of the new legislation:

Communication – Education – Trust