Airbnb gave a step towards more inclusive operations with the acquisition of London-based startup Accomable, that lists roughly 1,100 house and department listings with an inclusive angle.
Both sides decline to offer numbers in the acquisition, but Accomable was struggling to fulfill its requests from interested travelers. Accomable was only able to achieve 5 to 10 percent of booking requests, although they raised nearly $400,000 from investors since its foundation.
Sri Midipalli, CEO and Co-Founder of Accomable, started the company after a year of struggling to locate wheelchair-accessible accommodations suitable for travelers like himself. “Accomable started less as a company or a product, but more as a mission and a dream,” Madipalli wrote in a company blog post last Wednesday. “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.”
In Madipalli’s experience, even the biggest hotels failed to provide the information needed for such travelers to make reservations or bookings, often not providing anything more than a photograph to determine if a tourist with disabilities could fit his or her wheelchair through a door. So, he founded the company to provide information and booking services to this very special market.
“We see the need every day, which is why we wanted to team-up with a bigger player,” Madipalli said to CNBC, adding that he has never booked through Airbnb because the San-Francisco based company didn’t offer wheelchair-accessible rentals. “But [now] I look forward to trying it out.”
But Madipalli will do more than try the new Airbnb features; he will be heading a group within the company making the community of hosts and rentals accessible to more people: “Srin and his team will be bringing their tremendous expertise and passion for inclusive travel to Airbnb. As part of the Airbnb team, Srin will lead our efforts to make travel accessible for everyone. Srin and his team will be building on work that is underway to make the Airbnb experience better for everyone,” wrote Airbnb in a blog post last week.
Airbnb immediately enabled new features for hosts so they can be “more descriptive” about the accessibility of their homes or spaces. According to Airbnb, “The features help hosts be descriptive about their home’s accessibility, and give guests the clear information they need to find the right home for them.”