How Can Hotels Make Accessibility a Priority?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 61 million adults in the U.S. live with a disability and the World Health Organization estimates that 1 billion people worldwide live with some form of disability. By 2050, the world’s population of those age 60 and older is expected to double to 2 billion. When planning to travel, those with disabilities find it difficult to find adequate information regarding accessibility. Recent studies conducted regarding travel patterns and accessibility revealed that 50% of those with disabilities would travel more if they were sure that accessible facilities were available to accommodate their needs.
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Global Hotel Accessibility Survey
Mobility Mojo’s Global Hotel Accessibility Survey, surveyed 1000 hotel websites and surveyed 600 hotels by phone in 121 countries to examine the quality of accessibility information being provided. The study took place between October 2019 and January 2020 and found that 18% of the hotels sampled that had accessible guest rooms did not provide any information on their websites. 53% of the hotels that provided accessibility information on their websites did not allow for online bookings. 35% of hotels that had no accessibility information provided pet friendly information. And 100% of hotels did not provide measurements of accessible room features on their websites.
600 hotels were also called as a part of the survey to review the booking process of accessible guest rooms. The survey found that staff lacked knowledge regarding accessibility, there were long wait times to receive information, inaccurate information was provided and there were language barriers preventing the exchange of information. The study found that 99% of hotels sampled already had the infrastructure in place to adequately provide services to those with accessibility needs. Providing information to travelers regarding accessibility on hotel websites is where hotels are falling short the most, in addition to hotel staff being unprepared to handle questions regarding accessibility.
- 99% had rooms designed for those with accessibility needs but did not provide enough detail.
- 19% could not be reached due to busy lines or incorrect contact information.
- 16% of the calls required 2 or more transfers.
- 22% could not provide accessibility information.
Mobility Mojo Accessibility Assessment Software
Mobility Mojo’s accessibility assessment software allows hotels to fully assess their hotel’s accessibility in under 40 minutes. The hotel’s accessibility information will be displayed on the hotel’s website and will show an accessibility button that provides accurate and detailed information regarding accessibility features provided by the hotel. Hotels such as the Gaylord Palms Resort utilizes the Mobility Mojo’s accessibility solution to provide guests with information in one place and allows them to book directly from the accessibility page. The solution displays a rating system that ranks hotels from platinum to bronze depending on their accessibility. Guests can access information regarding:
- Accessibility parking spaces
- Entrance door width
- Wheelchair accessible bathrooms
- Elevator door width
- Number of accessible guest rooms
- Door width of accessible guest rooms
- Bathroom door measurements
Marriott International eSSENTIAL Accessibility
Marriott International partnered with eSSENTIAL Accessibility to offer consumers an assistive app on their websites that help those with difficulty typing, moving a mouse and difficulty reading to navigate the web and enjoy a more inclusive online experience. eSSENTIAL Accessibility is an assistive technology application that helps those with physical, visual or hearing disabilities to access computers and websites more easily. The technology makes computers more accessible and makes navigating the web easier by providing tools such as:
- Keyboard alternatives
- Mouse alternatives
- Text and image zooming
- Visual “click assist”
- Voice recognition
Using Hotel Technology to Help Those with Disabilities
The pandemic has accelerated the use of technology within the Hospitality Industry, and this could be helpful to those with accessibility needs. Many hotels have begun offering guests access to the hotel features through the use of mobile apps. Many hotels are using guest messaging to facilitate communication between guests and staff. Guest messaging can assist those with hearing impairment or other disabilities to communicate with hotel staff to make requests, to make reservations and to receive important information. Hotels are also investing in guest room controls, guests can control the television, the lighting, the temperature and adjust blinds with their mobile devices. Voice control technology is another solution that can provide guests with the ability to request room service, to make restaurant reservations and to make specific requests without pressing any buttons and without having to make any calls. Voice control technology also allows guests to adjust the room features such as lighting and temperature to their specific comfort level. These contactless technologies remove the language barriers by allowing guests to communicate in their native languages and also allows guests to communicate with staff on a 24-hour basis to receive assistance.
Why Should Hotels Make Accessibility a Priority?
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, seniors and accessibility tourism is the fastest growing but underserved market in the world. Accommodating those with accessibility needs is an overlooked market that the Hospitality Industry can tap into by improving their websites to provide accurate information to travelers with accessibility needs. As a result of the pandemic, many families have been separated due to travel restrictions and many are planning to reunite. Relatives and friends with disabilities will determine which hotels the entire group decides to book. Since 90% of consumers book trips online, hotels need to ensure that accurate and adequate information regarding accessibility is provided on their websites. Between 2014 and 2016, people with disabilities took 73 million trips and they deserve access to reliable and detailed information that will allow them to plan their next trip.