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As we increasingly rely on the digital world, accessible hotel websites are essential for travelers of different abilities and backgrounds. Over one billion people have disabilities worldwide, and they spend $58.2 billion on tourism annually. They also travel leisurely at the same rate as non-disabled people. Yet, despite this overwhelming demand, the hospitality industry still underserves people with disabilities, particularly those with mobile impairments.
This blog explores how hotels that provide digital and physical accessibility benefit everyone, including ways to help ensure an inclusive travel experience.
Let’s start with the advantages of accessible hotel websites from a business perspective.
The Business Benefits of Accessible Hotel Websites
Simply put, accessibility is a business advantage for the hotel industry. North Americans with disabilities spend roughly $19 billion annually on travel. If your hotel and website meet and exceed accessibility expectations, you have a competitive advantage. And it’s in your best interests to let travelers with disabilities know all about it.
Expanded Reach and Revenue
Prioritizing digital accessibility helps your business tap into a broader market. An accessible website enables guests with disabilities to more easily find information, make reservations, and engage with your brand. This inclusivity broadens your customer base and contributes substantially to your bottom line.
Enhanced Reputation and Customer Loyalty
Digital accessibility is a powerful reputation builder. Guests appreciate businesses that demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity. By providing an accessible online experience, hotels can enhance their brand image and encourage customer loyalty. Word-of-mouth recommendations and positive reviews from guests with disabilities can be particularly impactful in shaping a hotel’s reputation.
Legal Compliance and Risk Mitigation
Staying compliant with accessibility regulations is a legal requirement that can help mitigate the risk of lawsuits and fines. Non-compliance can lead to negative publicity and legal repercussions that harm your revenue stream and reputation. Openly embracing digital accessibility, on the other hand, shows your commitment to social responsibility and minimizes risk.
Accessibility Means Websites and Rooms Everyone Can Use
When disabled people plan a trip on a hotel website, they typically want the same general information as all end users. Where’s the hotel located, and what are the room selections? What are the nearby attractions and dining options? They may also want to know if your hotel rooms are physically accessible. Do they have wheel-in showers or grab bars? What about auxiliary visual alarms if they have hearing issues? There’s a good chance end users with disabilities will leave a website missing this vital information.
By contrast, providing accessibility information gives them confidence that they’ve chosen the right place to stay. For example, the Omni Hotels and Resorts website offers accessibility descriptions for grab bars near toilets and visual cues for the hotel’s alarm and phone systems. However, hotels should back up their digital information with rooms everyone can use and enjoy. And research indicates the industry still has considerable accessibility gaps to close. An MMGY Travel Intelligence survey of over 2,000 disabled Americans shows:
- 54% had a room check-in that didn’t match the one they booked online
- 81% experienced inaccessible showers/bathtubs
- 52% had beds too high to be accessible
Accessible Reservations On Hotel Websites
Not only should online hotel information be about accessibility, but it should also be accessible, otherwise known as digital accessibility. It means the website itself is obstacle-free for people with disabilities. It also meets the technical requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the gold standard for web accessibility. For example, WCAG standards include text alternatives to images and online forms that are fillable using different input devices (not just a mouse).
The Internet wasn’t integral to business when Congress enacted the ADA in 1988. Before this crucial legislation, travel agencies, tourism groups, and mainstream advertising were the primary hotel information sources. What’s more, the Department of Justice consistently rules that, under Title III of the ADA, websites of public accommodations must be accessible. The only exception is offering an alternative that provides complete 24/7 access and equal service for disabled customers. The ADA also explicitly expresses that disabled people can reserve rooms 24/7 with no barriers or restrictions.
People with disabilities are twice as likely to make hotel reservations on a hotel website as by phone. So, always consider web accessibility in your online booking system. It’s time to make around-the-clock web reservations equally available to all end users.
Let’s Make Room for Accessible Hotel Websites
By prioritizing accessibility, hotels can expand their reach, enhance their reputation, and demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility. Moreover, ensuring compliance with accessibility regulations is a legal requirement and a proactive measure to decrease risk and nurture positive guest relationships.
As the hospitality industry evolves, the role of digital accessibility will only grow more critical. Embracing accessibility isn’t just a checkbox on a compliance list but a commitment to serving all guests, regardless of their abilities. That said, it’s equally important to match your physical accessibility with your digital content. Rooms and amenities should be worry-free and enjoyable for people with various disabilities.
In the journey towards a more inclusive digital landscape, hotels have a unique opportunity to lead by example and create experiences that leave a lasting, positive impact on every guest.
UserWay: Digital Accessibility for Travel And Beyond
Digital accessibility and regulatory compliance are UserWay’s core mission for any industry. Discover the advantages of AI-Powered accessibility tools, superior legal support, commission-based partnership opportunities, enterprise solutions, and more.
Accessibility starts here, and UserWay is with you every step of the way.
Answers to Common FAQs
What Defines an Accessible Hotel Room?
An accessible room is on the first floor, which makes it easy for disabled people to enter and leave, and provides more expansive bedroom and bathroom doorways.
Can Anyone Book An Accessible Hotel Room?
Yes, but U.S. law dictates that handicapped rooms must be the last rooms booked and only for disabled people.
Why Do Accessible Rooms Cost Less?
Accessible rooms are more affordable because they have a lower demand, less square footage, and fewer amenities than other rooms.