ADA Compliancy Toward Accommodating Blind & Low Vision Guests

By Kathleen Pohlid Founder & Managing Member, Pohlid, PLLC | July 17, 2011

Co-authored by Soy Williams, AIA, President, Soy Williams Consulting

Hotel establishments that do not evaluate and prepare their facilities to accommodate persons with visual disabilities are making a mistake. The number of persons with visual impairments and disabilities is likely to grow dramatically. This poses significant implications for the hotel industry.

According to some estimates, the number of older Americans in the United States is projected to increase by 135% between years 2000 and 2050. Historically, 1 person out of 25 was over the age of 65 at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1989, that number increased to 1 in 8. By 2030, 1 out of every 5 people in the U.S. is projected to be over the age of 65.

Since a significant portion of visual impairments is age related, these statistics confirm the number of people in the United States with vision loss (approximately 25 million) is rising dramatically. As the number of seniors increase, so does their desire for leisure travel and retirement vacations. This means that hotels and resorts will likely experience an increase in the number of guests who are blind or have low vision.

Hotel establishments have good business reasons to accommodate guests with vision impairment since they are part of a growing customer base. Avoiding legal pitfalls should also be a good incentive to initiating proactive measures to accommodate these guests and address their concerns.

Americans with Disabilities Act

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Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.