Photo 1: Accessible Bedroom at a Hotel
|Source: © Simon Darcy 2007|
The accessibility of the hotel room, bathroom and public spaces are critical to two interrelated aspects of a person's visit. First, can they access the premise generally (e.g. parking, drop-off, getting in the front door to reception, accessible reception desk (see Photo 2) etc.) and whether the room can meet the requirements for their personal care needs (e.g. circulation space, sleeping, bathing, use the toilet etc.). Second, if this first criteria can be met then the other public spaces of the hotel will determine their interactions with the staff and other guests and, hence, the overall quality of their experience in the hotel.
Photo 2: Reception Desk with Dual Height Areas For Wheelchair Users or People with Short Stature
|Source: © Simon Darcy 2007|
Across all dimensions of access (mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive) the component people rated as "very important" and had the highest mean score was a "can-do customer service attitude". Yet, there has been very little examination in the literature of hotel and lodging manager's perceptions of servicing people with disabilities. An article has just been published that summarises the previous literature and undertakes a study of hotel managers perceptions of disability service provision.
The tourism sector globally has become increasingly mindful of how an ageing population is reshaping how and in what form services should be offered. This is particularly true of accommodation operations where there is a now a growing recognition of the commercial value for providing market groups with exceptional service. With this in mind, this study sought to ascertain the perceptions of managers in the accommodation sector towards disability service provision with a view to identifying any current service gaps or failings. An inductive, qualitative approach was used with the data collection phase incorporating a series of one on one interviews and a focus group. The in-depth interviews were conducted with 10 managers of hotels deemed to have accessible rooms that complied with the relevant building codes and standards. A focus group comprised 22 managers of hotels located in the Sydney central business district, Australia. Study findings revealed five key themes that had not been previously discussed in the literature. They were: inclusive attitudinal approach; safety; the responsibility of people with a disability to communicate their needs to the hotel; perceptions of accessible rooms by the general public; and operational processes. Related themes that emerged from the data analysis that had previously been aligned with the literature included: legislative responsibility, policy and building codes; disability as a market segment; staff awareness/training; and language, marketing, and promotion information. Implications with respect to management of accessible rooms in the accommodation sector are outlined and further areas of research are proposed.