As you know, with the economy improving and more baby boomers reaching retirement age, the travel industry is gearing up for a dramatic boom. To meet the demand and to stay relevant, now is the time to start thinking about renovating your brand, expanding, and incorporating designs that elevate your customers’ travel experience.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 20% of the population over 15 years of age has a disability – this is not even including children with disabilities. And as baby boomers age, this number is only going up.
So, what does that mean for the hospitality industry?
If you plan correctly, it could mean a huge return on your investment in accessible design.
Individuals with disabilities spend $13.6 billion a year on travel and $4.2 billion on lodging specifically. 73% are heads of their households and will no doubt be looking for accommodating hotel options when booking their travel.
In addition to these individuals, it’s also important to note that 25% of customers have a close friend or relative with a disability. When booking travel with their loved ones, it’s going to come down to one thing: accessibility.
Here’s a quick checklist to give you an idea of how accommodating your hotel is:
- Parking Spaces. Are your accessible parking spaces the closest ones to the entry? Is the signage high enough to be easily seen from a vehicle (60 inches from the ground)?
- Check-In Desk. Is there an area with a lower counter so that someone in a wheelchair can easily roll up to check in?
- Dining and Bar Areas. Do you provide roll-in seating in dining and bar areas so that someone in a wheelchair can easily seat themselves?
- Pool Lift. Does your pool area have a lift? *This is a hot topic right now because lifts were not required in the 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, but they were added to the 2010 Standards. Just think: what if you or your loved one who was bound to a wheelchair was not able to experience this classic part of a vacation?
- Accessible Rooms. Do you have enough rooms that are accommodating for people with mobility limitations or hearing impairments? Items like specialty doorbells and visual fire alarms are essential for guests with hearing disabilities, and roll-in showers, clear space around the bed, and lowered controls for thermostat, lights, etc. are necessary for guests in wheelchairs.
These are only a few of the many ways in which hotels can serve their guests with accessible design. How does your hotel measure up? Is it somewhere that will earn you positive word-of-mouth and lasting customer loyalty, or do you have some work to do?
Not only are the regulations set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act law, but they could make your hotel a much more attractive place for those requiring accessible facilities, and could easily set you ahead of your competitors in this crucial time. To learn more about ADA Compliance and how to make your business more accessible, pick up a 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design Guide or hire a qualified inspector.
If you’re a traveler looking for accessible lodging, check out our friends at www.ADAfriendly.com.
Brad Gaskins, AIA, CASp is Managing Principal and COO of The McIntosh Group. Brad is a leading national expert in ADA Compliance for facilities and a provider of Continuing Education Credits through the American Institute of Architects.