Table of contents
- What is accessible accommodation?
- What is included in accessible accommodation?
- Accessible accommodation in Australia
- The key to good accessible accommodation.
- Five tips for booking accessible accommodation
- Changing the way we approach accessible accommodation
- Accessible accommodation with Corporate Living Accommodation
In a world of inclusivity, travel should be accessible to everyone, irrespective of your ability.
Accessibility in accommodation is a topic that is often overlooked, yet it holds paramount importance in the dynamics of the hospitality industry.
Fundamentally, the importance lies in the principle of equality. It ensures that all individuals have equal opportunities to enjoy their travels and experience new places regardless of their abilities.
Accessible accommodations provide the necessary adaptations that enable individuals with disabilities to move around, use facilities, and receive the same high-quality service as any other resident, more commonly known as a guest.
Many accommodation providers around the world offer accessible accommodation. But just how accessible is it in reality?
Accommodation providers will often meet minimum requirements to claim they are accessible. However, in reality, the practicalities are often far from what is actually needed by accessible travellers.
With standards varying significantly from country to country, travellers with accessible needs must dive deep into potential accommodation options to ensure they suit their unique needs. It’s not as simple as visiting a hotel website or online booking engine and clicking ‘book now’.
In this article, we’ll explore accessible accommodation. We’ll cover key features, inclusions, and the surging demand for accessible accommodation in Australia. We will unlock the key to user-friendly accessible accommodation, share five tips for a seamless accessible accommodation experience, and look at how Corporate Living Accommodation is providing personalised, inclusive accommodation experiences.
What is accessible accommodation?
Accessible accommodation refers to lodgings designed for use by people with accessible needs.
It encapsulates the services and facilities that cater to the needs of individuals with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities.
In essence, it is about creating an inclusive environment where everyone can enjoy their stay comfortably and without hindrance, regardless of their physical condition or needs.
Ideally, accessible accommodation provides safe, equal, independent travel experiences to all by removing physical and social barriers.
What is included in accessible accommodation?
The inclusions of accessible accommodation will vary between providers and locations. It’s important for accommodation providers to clearly detail what is offered to support travellers with accessible needs so they and their companions can make informed decisions.
Some features of accessible accommodation can include:
- Accommodation features: like grab bars in bathrooms, roll-in or walk-in showers, and adjustable shower heads. Lowered benches and appliances, wide doorways for wheelchair access, and bed heights that allow for easy transfer are commonly sought-after features.
- Accessible transportation: access to accessible transfers, shuttle services, and reliable public transport.
- Customer service: teams that are educated, patient, and willing to do what they can to elevate the resident experience.
- Support equipment: extra items to support the traveller during their stay, like shower chairs, commodes and ramp access where needed. Some providers also coordinate external support equipment like hoists and can accommodate a motorised bed.
- Service animals: clear, considerate policies around the permission of service animals. In Australia, it’s against the law to discriminate against a person with a disability who is using an assistance dog.
The best accommodation providers balance solid accessibility infrastructure with educated, compassionate service. This helps travellers with accessible needs feel secure and creates memorable travel experiences.
Accessible accommodation in Australia
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are approximately 4.4 million Australians living with a disability, which accounts for almost 20 per cent of Australia’s population.
Through our years of experience in the Australian accommodation industry, we’ve witnessed the disparity between what accessible travellers really need and what accommodation providers deliver.
Assumptions that the traveller has a physical disability are easily made when accessible accommodation is booked. Of course, this is not always the case. The needs of accessible travellers vary significantly between individuals. This is why basic accessible accommodation standards often miss the mark.
Travellers may be experiencing acute impairment, ongoing sensory and mobility challenges, permanent disability, or a combination of things. Travellers with accessible needs deserve to be able to book their accommodation with confidence that their needs and those of their families and carers will be met.
The outlook is positive, though, with organisations like Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) advocating for travellers with accessible needs by offering opportunities for accommodation providers to upskill their teams through training programs.
SCIA is an organisation built and run by people with lived experience of travelling with disabilities. They understand the challenges travellers face with accessibility needs and advocate for inclusiveness and positive travel experiences for people, their families and carers.
SCIA’s Inclusion Services Training Program helps accommodation providers improve the travel experience for people with accessible needs. The training is impactful, featuring video clips demonstrating what works and what doesn’t, coupled with lived experience and real-life stories shared by the SCIA team.
The training provides tools to help accommodation providers raise awareness and develop their teams. It creates an understanding of the varied needs of travellers with accessible needs and how the simplest adjustments can elevate the travel experience.
The key to good accessible accommodation.
The key to unlocking accommodation that is accessible to travellers who need it, is not revolutionary. It’s actually very simple. Communication!
When accommodation providers listen to travellers with accessible needs, they gain an understanding of what will make the experience comfortable and enjoyable for the traveller.
When travellers are heard and understood, they feel confident that their accommodation will align with them and enable their independence.
Opening the lines of communication with travellers, and keeping them open, is the key to providing an experience that will exceed everyone’s expectations.
For travellers with accessible needs, we’ve compiled a list of our five top tips for ensuring that your accommodation experience is a success.
Five tips for booking accessible accommodation
These are our top five tips for a positive accessible accommodation experience:
- Research is key! Check the accommodation provider’s website for information. Be sure to check the accessibility features. Use your research to narrow down your options.
- Validate your options! Request a site inspection. Either in-person or virtually. Consider your own specific needs and make a list of questions to ask before your appointment.
- Ask! That old saying, ‘if you don’t ask, you won’t receive’, rings true. Be honest about what you need to have an enjoyable experience.
- Stay connected. In the lead-up to your stay and during your stay, keep in contact with your accommodation provider. Let them know how you’re going, and if there’s any extra support or assistance you need.
- Share your experience. Share your travel experiences with your network. It might help them in a future search for accessible accommodation.
Changing the way we approach accessible accommodation
Following his participation in the pilot program, Nu spoke with ABC Ballarat about his experience. You can read the full article on the ABC News website.
We sat down with Nu to chat about his key learnings and how we can make positive changes across our business and the industry to give accessible travellers a more enjoyable accommodation experience.
‘The biggest mistake we make is assuming. We generally assume that if someone is booking an accessible residence, they may have some physical disabilities. This is certainly not the case and by listening, we would be doing much better as a whole in the industry,’ Nu said.
‘So the key element is to communicate, show, and provide a solution. Every resident is entitled to a comfortable, safe, and secure residence, regardless of ability.’
Nu said the training was amazing as it presented real-life stories and examples as a part of the program. ‘The program focused on all things accessibility and equality, The idea was to educate the accommodation sector that we should be paying more attention to individuals who may have accessible needs. [We] have implemented a number of suggestions to make our residences more accommodating.
Accessible accommodation with Corporate Living Accommodation
We believe that travellers of all abilities should be able to experience the world without barriers.
We understand that no two disabilities are the same, and travellers’ accessibility needs are as unique as they are. We’re committed to providing accessible accommodation that aligns with our residents, allowing them to feel comfortable, respected, secure, and supported during their stay with us.
We offer a unique approach to accommodation, tailoring the travellers’ residence to their specific needs, not just for our accessible residents but for everyone staying with us.
Some of the measures we take to personalise accommodation for our residents with accessible needs include:
- Removing unneeded furniture to ensure there is ample space to easily move around within the residence.
- Rearrange the location and height of kitchen appliances and equipment (like the microwave) to ensure it’s easily accessible.
- Help our residents with accessible needs enjoy the local area by sharing information that will elevate their experience. For example, provide directions to the local accessible beach or accessible leisure facilities.
- Designated parking for people with accessible needs.
- Prioritise residence allocation to ensure it suits accessible needs.
- Ramps where required for wheelchair access.
- Hiring of accessibility aids.
- Engage with our partnerships like SCIA to elevate the residence experience with initiatives like the resilience program.
Sometimes, what we see in photos isn’t what we get in reality. That’s why we invite prospective residents to join us for a site inspection before making a booking. If they can’t attend in person, we are more than happy to host a virtual tour via video call to inspect the space and answer any questions.
Once the reservation has been made, our team connects with incoming travellers to find out what they need to feel at home in their residence. From kitchen appliances, support equipment, and home office supplies to relocating furniture, our team uncovers what travellers need and aligns the residence with them.
Travellers can feel confident knowing that their residence will be prepared in advance, ready for arrival.
Solutions-focused, we constantly search for ways to learn and grow. Ensuring our residents feel safe, secure and supported, irrespective of their ability, is paramount to the team at CLA.
Travelling with accessible needs requires careful planning. Choosing accommodation that aligns with travellers’ unique needs is key to ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience. At Corporate Living Accommodation, we recognise the diverse needs of travellers with accessible needs and go above and beyond to ensure each residency is truly exceptional.