Hotel Guest Service: Six Best Practices for People with Disabilities
By Ellen L. Shackelford President, Connections Access Consulting Services, LLC (CACS) | November 01, 2010
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.
In my recent articles, I've written about how I enjoy staying in 5 star hotels. Just recently my travels brought me to another one which I'd hoped would give me all the amenities as outlined in their brochures and on the hotels web page. However, it was just the opposite. In making reservations, I requested a suite. Since the reservationists completed my request by sending me a confirmation for my stay, I assumed everything was set. Instead, it was one big inconvenience as the hotel did not have wheelchair accommodations for suites at this particular location. The check-in was longer than expected and it was one which made me want to cancel all together.
First of all, the receptionist was not willing to work with me in searching the availability for me to stay in a comparable room. Since the room was not available when I arrived, I thought the hotel would make concessions for their oversight. All the accommodations offered to me were rooms with a patio view, which I was not able to access for the door way was to narrow for my wheelchair to go through.
Even though the room I requested was on a floor which did not offer accommodations for persons who used adaptive equipment (i.e., wheelchairs/scooters), they could have provided reasonable accommodations by offering some sort of incentive for my stay. I even suggested they read the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) handbook on reasonable accommodations, but the receptionist looked at me like she had not even heard of it. Here we are nearly twenty years later and hotels are still oblivious to the language and intent of the ADA!
It was my choice to stay in this hotel. And even more so after this experience as it offered me another opportunity to educate and raise awareness of the many issues people with disabilities face daily. I like to serve as an advocate in spreading useful information which will assist the hotel in assuring each employee is educated in serving patrons with disabilities. People with disabilities want the same products, services, privileges, advantages and accommodations as all guests. Everyone should be able to enjoy equal access to the goods and services hotels offer.
In order to provide guest services to people with disabilities, here are 6 best practices to follow as a guide when preparing accommodations for equal access to all guest amenities.