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Hotels must do better if they are to attract the £2 billion stay away from home market in England alone as identified by VisitEngland in 2010

12 February 2014

VisitEngland has estimated the value of the stay away from home market for disabled people at £2b. However, a recent survey by the new online training resource for hotel staff called AccessChamp has found that hoteliers have a long way to go to provide great customer service to disabled guests.

The research by online, hotel training resource AccessChamp into the customer service given to disabled guests illustrates that standards continue to be disappointingly low, with only 10% of hotel bedrooms currently meeting the needs of disabled people.

The research, conducted among 276 members of Disabled Motoring UK in 2013, and written by Arnold Fewell, Managing Director of AccessChamp, highlights that many disabled guests find facilities or services in hotels as just “OK” or “poor”, and that hoteliers are a long way from providing an outstanding service to this valuable market.

The research findings showed that 60.4% of respondents described bathroom facilities as just "OK" or "poor", while 59.8% said the same about the location of their room in relation to, say, reception. The report also cited layout of room, availability of car parking on arrival, accessibility to a disabled toilet in a public area, room facilities, and information asked when booking a room as needing improvement. 

“Some of these issues should have been tackled already under The Equality Act, the others will only cost small amounts to improve,” commented Fewell, who hopes that the findings will help hoteliers improve their service to disabled guests further by concentrating on key issues.

“The 2012 Paralympic Games showed the inspirational quality of disabled people,” he continues. “Every day in the UK, 25% of the population deals with a disability, either as a disabled person or as a carer. Surely, in this day and age, disabled people should receive the same level of service as non-disabled people. That is why it is concerning to see in this research the current situation of customer service that disabled people are receiving in hotels. It is a long way from excellent but now we have a benchmark to measure against.”

However, it wasn’t all bad news for hoteliers, as the sector scored better on the areas of helpfulness of staff, ease of booking, ease of check-in, quality of directions given, and ease of reading marketing material. Indeed, 70.2% of respondents rated helpfulness of staff as good or very good, while 50.3% said ease of reading marketing material was good or above.

To speak to the author, Arnold Fewell on 01609 775686, email arnold@avfmarketing.co.uk.