Today (Thursday 10 January), travel site Airbnb is curating an event for hosts to share their homes with great accessible features. Accessibility product and program manager at Airbnb, Srin Madipalli speaks with Enable.
The event, which kicks off in the London based Airbnb offices, is just one of many host sessions that are planned for the year ahead.
After travelling in 2011, Srin saw a gap in the market for accessible travel which led him to launch his own service, Accomable, in 2015.
“Travelling in 2011 was an absolutely wonderful time and it was really good, but it was difficult,” remembers Srin.
“On certain occasions I would turn up at hotels that stated they were step free or had roll in showers, or certain accessibility features, however, when I arrived it wouldn’t be as advertised. A lot of major information portals never had any good accessibility information – it would be a game of chance.
“That experience really planted the seed in my head that we could do something so much better in travel. Technology at the time: there were so many new platforms developing and I thought, ‘we can do taxis and all these other things, why can’t we make accessible travel so much easier with technology?’”
His innovative thinking was soon picked up by Airbnb who took Srin’s idea and expanded Accomable to promote accessible travel accommodation for Airbnb customers.
Now, Airbnb are announcing one of their new flagship projects for the year. Srin explains: “In key cities across the world we are offering free photography for up to 200 hosts with accessibility features. Our feedback from the community was that really good photography is really important in order to build trust.”
From accessible parking, entrances, products to the design and layout of rooms – the event will promote the need for good quality, high-resolution images for hosts to use.
“Images can help people understand the accessibility features. Just like every home is unique, what might work for one person may not work for another; having really good photography makes it easier for a guest to determine what home would work for them,” adds Srin.
Adjustments and inclusive travel does not stop there for Airbnb.
THE YEAR AHEAD
Partnering today’s announcement with future projects, Srin reveals:
“In various cities we will also be running inclusivity training to make people aware of accessibility, disability, and really try and showcase the opportunity that exists were they to make their homes more accessibility friendly.
“We are going to go into a lot more detail on the types of services available on Airbnb – there are 27 different accessibility filters at the moment. We will explain what the filters mean, share how to provide good information on a listing and make it easier and more understandable, language, general awareness training – it is an all-rounded inclusivity workshop to educate hosts on accessible travel.”
An exciting time for the company, it is refreshing to know that many hosts are empowering inclusivity in the accommodation they have available. Similarly, hosts that don’t have accessible homes at present will have knowledge and guidance on how to become accessible in the near future.
With Airbnb leading the way in inclusive accommodation, accessible travel for the disabled community is closer than ever before.
Anyone interested in sharing their adapted home in or surrounding London and gaining free professional photography for their listing can contact the team on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.