Dear Accomable community,
Today marks the start of an exciting and historic new chapter in our mission to make travel accessible for disabled people around the world. I am delighted to announce that the Accomable team and myself will be joining the Airbnb family to share our unique knowledge and expertise to make one of the world’s largest travel communities more accessible, and to enable Airbnb to fulfil its mission to create a world where anyone can truly belong anywhere.
I launched Accomable with my childhood friend, Martyn, a little over two years ago in simple beginnings. Back in early 2015, I was still learning to code and the Accomable journey was started with a basic web app that I hacked together in my bedroom over a caffeine-fuelled three weeks. Accomable started less as a company or a product but more as a mission and a dream. A mission to open up travel and adventure to hundreds of millions of disabled people; and a dream that one day, I, as a disabled person could travel the world just like everybody else.
We’ve chased that dream relentlessly since the very beginning. We’ve built an extraordinary team - Shona, Suzanne, Chris, Uel, Katie and Luke who’ve put their heart and souls into advancing our mission and who’ve always gone above and beyond the call of duty. We’ve raised investment from amazing individuals; and worked together to build a company from absolute scratch. We’ve fought hard to recruit every accessible property, help every traveller and done everything we could to create an awesome experience for anyone looking for an accessible place to stay.
Our decision to join Airbnb was one that we spent a long time considering. Our work has allowed us to develop unrivalled expertise in the world of accessible travel, building a brand which disabled travellers can trust. I know many in the Accomable community gained comfort from the fact that Accomable was created with a focus on accessibility and I am very sensitive to the fact that some in our community may be concerned that accessibility will again become an afterthought that is drowned out within a larger platform.
As someone who built Accomable to address a need we all share in the Accomable community, I very much empathise with any nervousness you may have. To address this, the Accomable team and I have spent considerable time with Airbnb’s founding and senior management teams. During our time at Airbnb, we were left in no doubt that Airbnb shares our mission and we are convinced that joining Airbnb provides the best opportunity to take our dream and mission to a global level, using the current reach of Airbnb’s community of four million hosts and 100 million guests to work together and make the world more accessible.
So you might ask what does this mean in practice?
- I’ll be working with Airbnb’s team and leading our efforts to build upon and improve our accessibility features and filters. My team will be sharing our existing know-how with Airbnb’s various product teams and will work with the community to improve these continuously in the coming months. We will also develop new policies and features to ensure accessibility information is as accurate as possible.
- If you are a guest who has booked a trip via Accomable, we’ll be reaching out to you with instructions so you can continue on your vacation just as you planned. If you are a Vendor, we’ll also be contacting you to help ensure you can manage existing reservations and list on Airbnb so you can take advantage of the amazing platform, tools and technologies that Airbnb has created for hosts. Ultimately, Accomable’s website will redirect to Airbnb, but during the transition, Accomable’s listings will remain on Accomable.com. Potential guests can reach hosts via an email address posted on each listing.
- My team will be working with existing Airbnb hosts around the world to find properties that could have suitable accessibility features and will work with such hosts to make their properties more discoverable with Airbnb’s new filters.
- We’ll be applying our expertise beyond the flagship Homes business and working with teams in Trips and future product lines to make sure that accessibility is at the heart of Airbnb and usable to people with accessibility needs.
- At Accomable, despite our best intentions, we sometimes struggled due to a lack of resources to cater for users with disabilities beyond those which are mobility based. This was something that greatly frustrated me. At Airbnb, we can now drive forward all existing efforts to make sure Airbnb can accommodate as wide a variety of disabilities as possible.
- We’re not going to rest at making the Airbnb platform more usable. We’re going to work tirelessly to grow the Airbnb community and to empower disabled entrepreneurs to share their homes and create awesome local experiences for visiting travellers.
- I’ll be working with the Diversity and Belonging team to make sure that Airbnb is doing everything it can to make sure that it is a great place to work at if you have a disability. As such, I’ll be helping create new initiatives to increase the numbers of disabled applicants.
- I see this as just the beginning of something that will be a profound game changer in the world of accessibility. I will continue to be an advocate and champion for better accessibility and for the use of technology to help disabled people. Innovation and creativity will always be at the heart of any team I’m responsible for, so stay tuned as we try to push the boundaries on everything from cutting-edge new technology to empowering new community partnerships!
It’ll take some time to implement many of these goals, so bear with us over the coming months! I also want to be available and open to feedback on what we can do better and will be operating a series of channels that will help ensure we can stay connected and I can hear your ideas. You can also reach us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might think that this sounds a lot – it is! But it is a challenge that I relish and one that I see more of a calling than a job – as it gives my team and me the chance to improve the lives of millions of people around world.
All the best,
Accomable CEO & co-founder