Travelport today announced it has launched a global campaign to improve awareness and use of the DPNA Special Service Request (SSR) code, which can be used by travel agents, among others, to alert airlines when a passenger has intellectual or developmental disability and needs assistance.
The campaign was initiated after Travelport found evidence of exceptionally low use of the code on bookings made through its GDS. Despite registering more than 250 million flight bookings through its GDS globally in 2018, and an estimated 200 million people worldwide having an intellectual disability (2.6% of the global population), the code was used just 4,309 times (approximately 0.0015% of total flight bookings). A poll of 136 of travel agents, conducted by Travelport, revealed just 24% know the code exists.
Travelport’s six-month long campaign will reach more than 100,000 travel agents in over 30 countries. It features electronic direct mails (EDMs) as well as ‘sign on alerts’ and graphical ‘prompts’ delivered through the company’s flagship Travelport Smartpoint tool, which is used by travel agents, among others, to search and book airline seats, hotel rooms and more. The EDMs and ‘sign on alerts’ are being shown to its travel agent partners globally, while the ‘prompts’ are activated when a consultant is at the booking stage of a flight to over 30 of the most popular destinations in the world such as London, New York, Sydney and Delhi.
The ‘prompts’ are also being shown when any flight is about to be booked to or from the United Arab Emirates, the country hosting the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2019 this month. Travelport has also created a campaign webpage, which provides guidance for travel agents on talking to travelers about intellectual disabilities and associated assistance.
The digital media used to reach travel agents during the campaign is typically sold by Travelport to travel providers, like airlines and hotels, as advertising space. The company has allocated over USD 100,000 worth of slots for the DPNA SSR code awareness campaign, which will run until 31 August 2019. Content from the campaign will be displayed to travel agents more than 3.5 million times, making it one of the biggest digital media campaigns the company has ever executed.
SSR codes are used in the airline industry to communicate traveler preferences or needs, such as requests for wheelchair assistance, to airlines. They are delivered through standardized four-letter codes defined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The DPNA code needs to be accompanied by additional descriptive free text, so the airline understands the support required. Once an IATA member airline has received the code, a response acknowledging the request is mandatory.