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Lesley Pate Marlin

With the enactment of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 ("ADAAA") and the corresponding regulations recently promulgated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), the legal landscape under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") has changed dramatically and will continue to do so with court decisions interpreting and applying the amended law. As a result, employers face new compliance challenges and must re-examine how they address disability-related issues and accommodation requests in order to minimize the risk of enforcement actions and/or litigation. Read on...

Kathleen Pohlid

Is your establishment doing all it can to accommodate guests with disabilities who are blind or have low vision? If not, a significant sector of your potential business is being ignored, not to mention the perils that may arise from potential disability discrimination or physical injury claims. It makes good sense to implement or enhance measures that go a long way toward making guests with vision loss feel welcome. Read on...

Soy Williams

Have you ever found yourself in a hotel room with grab bars, a roll-in shower and a fire alarm strobe? More than once while traveling with people with disabilities I have swapped rooms with someone who reserved but was not rented an accessible room. Among friends and colleagues creative thinking, a shake of the head and good-natured chuckles solve the problem. The fact that certain members of the traveling public are unable to obtain lodging meeting their needs is no laughing matter, and the U.S. Department of Justice has intervened to improve the travel experience for individuals with disabilities. Read on...

Soy Williams

Twenty years have passed since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became the law of the land. Before then, the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act was passed in 1988. Yet many still question whether their timeshare, condo-hotel, or other similar vacation ownership properties are required to comply with one or both. Owners and operators become aware of a problem only after a guest with a disability complains, a lawsuit is filed, or the U.S. Department of Justice begins an investigation. Recent changes to the ADA regulations promise to reinvigorate the continuing debate on providing compliant lodging facilities. Read on...

Kathleen Pohlid

A guest with a dog under leash asks hotel reception for a room. Since the guest does not appear to be disabled and the dog has no service animal marking, reception advises, "pets are not allowed." When the guest informs the dog is a disability service animal, reception politely inquires as to the guest's disability and the animal's certification. Is this a problem? Yes, it is. This scenario illustrates the importance of developing policies and staff training on the recent amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act to promote compliance under the ADA and foster exceptional guest relations. Read on...

Kathleen Pohlid

Hotel guest rooms are a critical area of focus under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Do not incorrectly assume your hotels are ADA compliant because they have designated "handicap accessible" rooms on a low floor with accessible showers. The standards for guest rooms are detailed and rooms that were formerly ADA compliant may have been rendered inaccessible due to alterations and renovations. Additionally, the new 2010 ADA regulations and standards impose significant requirements affecting guest rooms. Are your hotel rooms accessible and ADA compliant? Read on...

Kathleen Pohlid

Recent changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations require many hotels and resorts to make significant changes to their recreational facilities by 2012. The new ADA rules include specifications for recreational boating areas, exercise machines, golf facilities, play areas, swimming pools, saunas, steam rooms, and court sports facilities. Legal compliance is not the only reason to take note of these new rules. Since one out of every ten persons today has a disability, these accommodations make business sense, providing an opportunity to increase sales and services by expanding the hospitality market to travelers with disabilities and their companions. Read on...

Ellen L. Shackelford

It is human nature to desire to feel secure in the world we live in. This motivational factor has been born in all living beings for centuries; which has become a hierarchy of needs adapted by Abraham Maslow in the 1940's - 1950's. His theory determined Human Beings motivational need for safety was high on his Hierarchy of Needs (Abraham Maslow, 1970). People want to feel safe and secure in their existence and want no reluctance in obtaining it. This factor is a major issue for people with disabilities, especially when they venture out of their comfort zone-home. The thought of staying in a hotel or motel with more than 10 or more floors can make one apprehensive who use adaptive equipment for mobility. Read on...

Ellen L. Shackelford

It is thought to be a normal human behavior to be kind, sensitive, caring, and helpful, which is what we have all learned in grade school. However, since there are such a multitude of different people in this country with all types of behaviors and attitudes, it's difficult to become accustomed to all of them. What's even worse is when people of differences have disabilities. There are an estimated 54 million people living in this country with a disability, and unfortunately this number will rise daily, as people experience all types of things which cause them to be diagnosed with having a disability; whether it's through accident, injury, disease or birth. Read on...

Ellen L. Shackelford

Every person who patronizes a hotel is looking for exceptional customer service and deserves accommodations when needed. Often there may be some questions in guest services on how to appropriately offer dignified services to patrons, who may have unique needs. Those needs are individualized and should be taken into account when preparing your services accordingly. Let me start by telling you a story which will shed some light on how to approach the issue in a practical way. Read on...

Ellen L. Shackelford

Adults with disabilities travel often and enjoy staying in hotels/motels which cater to their unique and specific needs. They are seeking exceptional customer service as all guests hope to acquire. These questions on how to assist should be no different on how to address the concerns of any other guest intent on having a comfortable and memorable stay. People with disabilities desire the same products and service as other persons and deserve to be treated as viable consumers. Read on...

Ellen L. Shackelford

Communication is critical in determining how to better serve customers and it serves as a tool to retain customers. It determines what a customer needs in terms of service to enable them to receive the quality of service the hotel/motel can deliver while they are guests. It begins once reservations are made in the initial phone call and the scheduling of a room assignment. The person servicing the phone call has to be able to listen to the potential guest and determine what their unique needs may be. Once a person mentions they have a disability and requires specific accommodations, the reservationists' job is to communicate in such a way as to identify the individuals' unique needs. Read on...

Ellen L. Shackelford

Customer service is an essential element of room service; it is what gets counted at the end of a stay and added on the comment cards left in the room on the desk. It's good business practice to assure the service guests receive is exceptional. When people with disabilities travel, it is difficult enough finding a venue which is accommodating and accessible, but when a hotel is located and the individual accepts the accommodations they also want to be assured their service will be what was promised. Read on...

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.