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THE travel sector needs to think beyond “one size fits all” if they are to cash in on the huge untapped market of customers who want to travel but have particular requirements, the fourth Antor conference heard.

“Diversity first” should be included in any campaign to attract disabled, older, LGBT or Muslim travellers.

Broadcaster and access consultant for disabled people, Mik Scarlet, said: “Holidays, tourism, fun, an exciting weekend is something we can all want to do. Start thinking outside the box. Do it to make a profit because we are loaded and if you do it right we will come back again and again. We are a very loyal customer base.”

Lynn Scrivener, partnership manager of Silver Travel Advisor, said that in ten-years time half of UK adults will be over 50 – but they won’t necessarily want to be marketed to as “older travellers”.

She said: “We may look like we’re 60 or 70 or 80 but we also want to look ten years younger so we don’t particularly want to see a picture online or in magazine of some gnarled old woman looking like she’s 80 and has led the life of a working kitchen maid. So we do want to look attractive but at the same time, yes, you want to appeal to your viewer or reader.”

Both were speaking at the Association of National Tourist Offices and Representatives (Antor) conference in London attended by delegates representing 21 tourist boards including Samoa, Botswana and Barbados.

Scarlet told how baggage handlers had broken his wheelchair and hotel staff had talked to his partner like his carer. He called for the industry not to see the disabled as a “stereotype on benefits.”

He said the disabled community represented 22 per cent of the UK population who have £80 billion a year of disposal income – some of which it wants to spend on travel.

Nabeel Shariff, founder of Serendipity Tailormade and Halal Travel, said Muslim travellers value hotels that offer halal food, alcohol-free environments, pray facilities, female friendly areas as well as those that welcomed families.

Jared Collum, sales and operations manager of LGBT specialists OutofOffice.com, appealed to the sector to be “sincere and not seasonal”.

He said: “The rainbow has become a bit of a commercial tool. It’s become the rubber stamp outside your hotel but that doesn’t make your services applicable to the LGBT audience.”

He also called for promotional material to include images of same sex couples. 

The conference also included expert updates on how technology was reshaping the way travellers research and book trips. 

Insight director Richard Thomas from TI Media revealed its latest research had identified a potential new ‘Heart of Britain’ market – women, who hold the family purse strings and save for travel. 

He said: “We feel they are often misunderstood and underrepresented in terms of the way they are communicated to by brands. 

“The average spend for the heart of Britain group stacks up pretty closely to what A, B spend on average on holidays and they out spend millennials. They have massive economic power and this group decide were this money gets spent. 

They are a huge group who can’t be ignored.”

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