Top Tips: Accommodation

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.

A photo of a hotel room bed and bedside table with a lamp on it

1. Start with the online experience

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:

  • Use clear and highly contrasting colours.
  • Stick to simple English.
  • Avoid PDFs that can distort on many computer screens and are not accessible for people using screen reading software.
  • Keep the site clear of clutter and check your web designer has used accessible web design standards.
  • Include clear instructions and easy-to-find contact details for anyone who may get stuck.

For a great example of an accessible website, check out the Be. Lab website.

 

2. Proudly promote the accessible features of your business

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.

 

3. Ask for specific requests

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.

 

4. Make it easy (and safe) for people to enter and move around

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.

 

5. Alternative audio/visual experiences

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:

  • Provide a vibrating pillow alarm for guests who are Deaf or hearing impaired.
  • Install a flashing light which is connected the fire alarm for guests who are Deaf or hearing impaired.
  • Display braille and tactile numbers on room doors.
  • Provide key hotel information in audio visual formats in multiple languages, including New Zealand Sign Language.

We have so many other (simple!)ideas that we would love to share with you. Contact the Be. Lab team for more.

6. Speak directly and clearly to your guests

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.

7. Make all printed collateral readable for everyone

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.

8. Defining and designing accessible rooms

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!

 

9. Go the extra mile

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.

Contact

Phone
+64 9 309 8966
Email
Centre of Possibility
@ AUT

Room WB239
WB Building
(The Seddon Building)
63 Wellesley St East
Auckland City

Mail
PO Box 78 021
Grey Lynn 1245
New Zealand