Before people are in hotel rooms, they're online researching and booking hotel rooms. As digital continues to increasingly drive the hospitality customer experience, accessibility needs to remain a key consideration or hotels may find themselves unintentionally alienating large segments of the population and may be subject to digital accessibility lawsuits.
Hotel websites, emails, and social media
While it might seem strange to think of websites, emails, and social media as traditional marketing, it may just be the case in the digital age and this digital foundation must be accessible.
This becomes especially true when customers are dealing directly with hospitality brands, as opposed to third-party booking sites, which is a growing focus area for many hotels. "In 2020," according to Trivago, "businesses will be spending more time, money, and effort on building brand recall and loyalty to boost direct bookings."
Certainly, everyone would expect that to deliver results through these channels, hotels will prioritize strong messaging, consistent branding, and great user experiences. But will they prioritize these things for everyone? Will accessibility be considered and required across all platforms, every time, for every campaign?
A common accessibility oversight is to focus only on the primary website, neglecting the channels that lead to and from that website, with the issue being that customers use all channels and expect them to work seamlessly (and accessibly). Whether on a desktop or mobile device, through a website or app, over social media or in response to email marketing, customers need accessible content and functionality.
Consider this scenario, one that unfortunately happens all the time: A company spends time and money building a great landing page for a campaign, and the page is beautiful, effective, and accessible. The company plans to drive traffic to the page through a big email campaign, but the email that goes out contains major accessibility barriers and many people with disabilities aren't able to easily select the primary call-to-action that brings them to the landing page. Those prospects are lost and new digital risk is found.
Expect hospitality brands to focus on making sure their main digital presence, which probably includes a website, emails, and social media, is buttoned up and accessible as they work to grow direct bookings.
- 10 Tips to Optimize Email Accessibility
- Why You Need to Test Custom Use Cases
- Don't Overlook iOS and Android Testing for Accessibility
Artificial intelligence and the internet of things
Massive expansion and application in artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) can make it feel like the future is here, but according to Trivago, these are some of the main tech trends to watch in the hospitality industry.
From chatbots to check-ins to real-time offers sent to guests' smartphones, Trivago expects these technologies to continue to emerge.
Each advancement in this space offers tremendous opportunity to make tasks and experiences easier and more enjoyable for guests. Hopefully, hotel brands stay mindful of the accessibility implications of these technologies, too.
Here to help with hospitality industry accessibility audits
We offer hospitality and travel accessibility audits, specializing in kiosk, website, and app accessibility. Please contact us to learn how we can help create a customized accessibility compliance strategy for your organization, or get started with a free website accessibility scan.