There are roughly 53 million adults living with a disability in the United States. That's about one-fifth of the population that requires accessible resources to navigate their daily life. These individuals are working, moving, and spending money, including on travel. Considering that disabled individuals are often traveling with non-disabled family members, demand for disabled-friendly rooms amounts to a considerable portion of the overall industry. Yet, many hotels remain inaccessible to disabled travelers, whether through their physical amenities, their reservation options, or both. Either through lack of awareness, or by negligence, many hotels make simple mistakes that shut themselves off from serving the millions of disabled families that travel every year. Hotels can become more accessible to disabled travelers simply by making a few easy tweaks to their website, which can broaden their target demographic and ultimately give them a competitive edge.
- List your room details on your site.
Disabled travelers need to know ahead of time that they will be able to stay comfortably at the hotel they choose, and this means researching handicap-accessible bedrooms, bathrooms, parking, and so on. As an established hotel, chances are you already have required features, like handicap parking, handrails, elevators, closed captioning on the television, and the like available for your guests. However, if you don't make that information available online, your disabled customers will assume that you don't have it. Picking up the phone and dialing customer service to get these questions answered is an extra hassle for someone who is hard of hearing or physically disabled, so making all of this information readily available online will make it easier for disabled customers to make reservations with your hotel, and show them that you value accessibility.
- Make sure your website complies with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
It's not just your physical hotel that needs to be disabled traveler friendly if you want to attract guests. You also need to make your website accessible to disabled users by following the WCAG’s recommendations. What does this mean? For starters, it means:
- Including closed captions on any videos
- Including alt text for images
- Providing a straightforward easy-to-navigate interface and registration process
Making sure that your website is easy to use for all disabled users is a great way to win new business by being an easy option for those looking to book online. It doesn't take much, but simply reviewing the WCAG guidelines and working with an educated accessible-friendly website designer can make all the difference.
- Promote your hotel as disabled-friendly.
Place an accessibility statement on your website and link all pages to it. This can immediately help disabled users and demonstrate that your hotel is aware and accessible. It's a quick, easy, and free way to target an entire community and make your company stand out.
As the demand for website accessibility increases and is a growing legal issue, companies are taking the necessary steps to be accessible to everyone. Don't get left behind, and take steps toward accessibility as it becomes the new norm.