Making your accommodation accessible to as many people as possible will grow your customer base, increase loyalty, and create a more welcoming experience for all.
Most people do research and book accommodation online, but many websites are not user friendly for everyone. Consider your online experience from the perspective of older people and busy parents, plus those with limited hand function who use a keyboard to navigate, or the visually impaired who use screen reading technology and magnification tools. Here are some simple ways to make your site more accessible:
For a great example of an accessible website, check out the Be. Lab website.
If potential guests know you’re committed to accessibility, they will choose your accommodation over others. Include clear descriptions of the accessible facilities available for guests on your website, in your advertising and on site. Photos on your website are vital so potential customers know whether the facilities will be suitable.
And remember, you don’t have to be perfect! People understand that improving access takes time. The important thing is to be honest. If you don’t have wheelchair access to an accessible shower, it’s better to say so as it allows guests to plan accordingly.
If you really want to show your commitment to being an accessible business, find out more about becoming Be. Lab Accredited.
It's important to provide the opportunity for people to state they have an access need. Someone may request an accessible room, a shower seat, or require a connecting room for a family member or caregiver. It can be as simple as including a question on the online booking form, but by asking the question, the guest will feel valued and your staff will have time to meet their needs.
If a request seems complicated or needs specialist knowledge or equipment, contact the Be. Lab team.
Consider the physical space and the ease in which guests with access needs can enter and move around. Routes need to be wide enough to allow pushchairs and wheelchairs plenty of room to access key areas such as reception, restaurant, conference rooms and recreational areas. Surfaces need to be slip resistant, and ramps and entrances must be open and clear. Ensure you clearly identify accessible toilets and accessible entrances with a sticker or sign so people can easily find their way around.
It is important that guests can independently engage with key information. Not all people will be able to hear emergency alarms, a knock at the door, or read written information easily. This is an exciting opportunity to be innovative and think outside the box! Plus, it will set your business apart from others.
Here are some ideas:
We have so many other (simple!)ideas that we would love to share with you. Contact the Be. Lab team for more.
Make your guests feel welcomed and valued by speaking directly to people with companions, such as those in wheelchairs or older people. It is important to not assume that people can’t speak for themselves. And try to face guests directly when speaking. Increasingly, more people have limited hearing and need to look at your face and lips as you talk.
Or go a step further and learn some New Zealand sign language! A basic sign such as “hello” or “welcome to the event” will go a long way to help deaf people feel welcomed. This simple gesture is not only fun to learn but can also generate loyal guests.
For more information on learning NZSL contact Deaf Aotearoa.
Check your brochures, flyers, compendiums, menus and maps for font size and style. Most people need fonts to be at least 12 point and many prefer text to be even larger. A sans serif font style can be read most comfortably by everyone. Having a Braille version of key information on hand is a great idea too! Also, if a guest appears to be struggling to read something (such as a price on a blackboard menu) offer to read it out loud.
If you don’t have any accessible rooms, consider redesigning a couple of your rooms to be fully accessible. When not in use by an access customer, they can be utilised by everyone.
The key design principal to consider is allowing enough space for wheelchairs and power chairs to move around and access the bed, kitchen facilities, bathroom and storage areas.
Another important component of an effective accessible room is providing a bathroom that is a generous size and has a level entry shower space and shower seat –you’ll find all your guests prefer this design! Before you begin make sure you talk to an expert.
Contact the Be. Lab team for more information!
Having additional information on accessible restaurants, transport and attractions in your city will make guests feel truly welcome.
And make sure you know how to help if someone needs medical or health assistance, or where to send a guest if their wheelchair has broken. People with access needs want accommodation that is easy and enjoyable. So, let’s make that happen!
For a more bespoke consultation on how you can grow your guest base by becoming more accessible, contact the Be. Lab team today.