Survey reveals concerns over disabled access in hospitality industry

14 April 2022 by
Survey reveals concerns over disabled access in hospitality industry

Nearly three in four guests (71%) believe more needs to be done to address a lack of accessibility for disabled people in the hospitality industry, a new study has revealed.

The ‘Accessibility in Hospitality' report surveyed 250 members of Hospitality Guest Experience Management (HGEM)'s database of non-disabled and disabled guests between the ages of 18 to 66+.

Some 30% of respondents would leave a venue immediately if access for disabled people was inadequate, while another 53% said they would not return to a venue if access was difficult.

The survey also revealed a gender split: 73% of female respondents felt that not enough attention is being paid to accessibility, whereas only 62% of their male counterparts believed this to be the case.

Only 7% of survey respondents thought that pubs had a good reputation for ensuring accessibility for disabled people. In comparison, 58% said that hotels are known for supporting disabled people's needs, making this sector the most trusted provider of accessibility in the industry.

Disabled people and their households are estimated to be worth £274b per year to UK businesses, according to 2020 figures from disability support organisation Purple.

By failing to address the needs of disabled people, Purple estimated that the hospitality industry could lose out on £163m to £274m every month.

Robin Sheppard, founder of the Blue Badge Access Awards and president of Bespoke Hotels, who collaborated with HGEM, said: "We must concentrate on the statistics, because they tell quite a tale. The figures unveiled in this report are a stark reflection of consumers' attitudes towards accessibility in hospitality – and the results aren't pretty.

"More importantly, they make you realise that what is currently deemed ‘normal' is simply not good enough. We must establish a new normal and erase years of historic insouciance on accessibility.

"We believe highlighting inaccessibility in statistical form is one of the first steps we can take to making the hospitality sector more inclusive, and we believe the time to innovate such change is now."

He added: "It is crucial to make the hotel experience more joyful and inclusive for both disabled and non-disabled guests, designing and creating a place of beauty and practicality for everyone to enjoy."

This year's Blue Badge Access Awards will be held on 28 April at Manchester's Hotel Brooklyn, which won the Accessibility Award at the 2021 Cateys.

Earlier this week UKHospitality said the industry could ‘lead the way in helping disabled people flourish' but warned that requiring employers to report data on accessibility in the workplace could lead to "inappropriate practices".

Click here to access the full findings from the ‘Accessibility in Hospitality' survey.

Image: VGstockstudio / Shutterstock

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