A warm hotel welcome
Can you imagine going into an internationally renowned hotel chain thinking that you had booked an accessible room and on your arrival you find out that there isn’t a room for you?
Whilst standing there in pure astonishment learning that they had overbooked, you now feel disappointed and extremely cross. Yet there’s more… you are then told the real reason why you haven’t an accessible room – there was not one to begin with!
Believe it or not, this did actually happen to a colleague of mine. There he stood on his crutches remonstrating with the Duty Manager and Receptionist of the hotel. As a way of resolving the situation, a suggestion was made – he could use the gym changing rooms that had walk-in showers. Needless to say that this as an alternative wasn’t even considered but nothing else was forthcoming
My colleague was attending an exhibition as an exhibitor and wanted to would book an overnight stay in advance. Just like every other booking, he asked the event organizer and the hotel, independently if there were accessible rooms available. Both parties reassured him that this type of room was available and so a booking with the hotel was confirmed.
What makes this all the more unacceptable is the hotel was promoted as the recommended place to stay if attending the exhibition and requiring accommodation. Even the exhibition organisers made it very clear that the exhibition was about disability, therefore accessible rooms were a necessity both to exhibitors and visitors alike.
Returning back to the scene with my colleague trying to check-in on arrival. The somewhat uncomfortable Duty Manager claimed that an outside agency had been responsible for the booking of the exhibition and a detailed brief should have been made available to the hotel with facility requirements and clear responsibilities defined. Obviously, this just wasn’t the case and as with all complaints, it’s the initial response of the person in charge at the time who deals with unforeseen issues as they arise.
My colleague’s tale helps to clearly indicate the complete lack of awareness from the hotel regarding the requirements under the Equalities Act. Reasonable adjustments and the injuries to feelings were not a consideration in this particular case.
The hotel in question has a slogan “Make it Right” specifically focused on improving the whole visitor experience. Clearly, this time the hotel fell far short of the mark by not understanding and providing for a growing market of more mobile and independent disabled customers.
Names have been left out of this for legal reasons but suffice it is to say that this will not be an isolated incident.
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