Are you doing everything you can to make your guest rooms accessible to all?
The Equality Act 2010 was introduced to ensure guests with physical and mental impairments — and those travelling with them — are not discriminated against.
1. Make an entrance
It's the obvious starter, but how easy is your building to enter in the first place? Is it plausible to put in a ramp (even a temporary one) or widen your door so a wheelchair can easily enter? In some older and listed buildings these modifications may not be possible, but at the very least make that clear to guests so they know when booking what to expect on arrival.
2. Keep downstairs free
If you have the space, make a downstairs room easily accessible for guests. You may not get guests with disabilities booking every week, so you can always rent it out to others looking for a room. If you do, just leave these as the last rooms to go, so you have taken reasonable steps to provide accommodation for those who need it most.
3. Modify your rooms
Pubs such as The Camden Hotel in Pembury, Kent, have modified rooms for guests with additional needs. This includes widening doors, lowering light switches and installing emergency cords and wheelchair-friendly wet rooms. The rooms are also big enough for family status, so an additional bed can be put in there if required.
4. Get the beds right
Consider the height of your beds. Too high and it will be impossible for wheelchair users to get in or out. Also, have ample space on either side for ease of access. Consider vibrating pillows, so hard of hearing guests will be alerted to any emergency alarms.
5. Spread the word
If you have made the effort to make your rooms more accessible, tell people and have imagery on your website showing the rooms and access to the pub. Guests will want to have as much information as possible before booking a room with you. If you don't talk about what you do, it will be easy to assume you either do nothing or do not care.
6. Make booking easy
As well as advertising your accessible rooms, ensure navigation on your site makes it easy to book them as this can be another barrier for guests.
7. Don't forget the pub
If you have guests in your rooms, you'll want them to have a great time in the pub as well. Menus with larger print and easy to read fonts will help the visually impaired. Some pubs, including 30 run by Cornish brewer and pubco St Austell, have introduced menus in braille. There are also apps, such as goodfoodtalks, available that will enable menus to be read to customers via a smartphone. Failing that, staff can read them to customers.
8. Tackle the toilets
Accessible toilets must have grab rails and emergency cords. Doors must open outward, the toilet needs to be raised and lever handles make taps easier to use. Make sure there is clear signage on the toilet and in the bar area. And remember, these are primarily toilets, not storage rooms.
9. Sort out your spacing
This applies throughout the building. Have wider access in corridors and spacing between tables and chairs for ease of access to those in wheelchairs or requiring support.
10. Train your staff
The British Beer & Pub Association's Pubs are for Everyone guide advises all customer-facing staff should be trained in disability awareness and know how to use accessible facilities, services and equipment. Some businesses have Access Champions, who take responsibility for access and making changes to layout.
11. Get help
Need further help on getting this right? There's plenty out there. Check out: