Always keen to look ahead at what is next for accessible and inclusive design, we assembled hospitality industry experts; Airbnb’s Accessibility Standards Lead Suzanne Edwards, Bespoke Hotels’ CEO Thomas Greenall, and Gerald Eve's Head of Hotels and Extended Stay Will Kirkpatrick to deliver a 'Raising the bar for accessibility across UK hospitality’ event. Motionspot’s inclusive built environment experts Ed Warner and Pareisse Wilson completed the stellar line-up in front of a highly engaged audience which spanned key figures from the hospitality industry, architecture and design professionals, accessibility advocates and journalists.
Some of the key takeaways about the future of accessible and inclusive design across the hotel and hospitality sector included:
- The need to factor in unseen disabilities and carers, and work harder to understand their needs.
- Designing in options and choice because accessibility isn’t one size fits all.
- That bathrooms are not just functional spaces for going to the toilet and washing, and that they can be much more experiential.
- That there is a tidal wave of change in the industry acknowledging that accessible and inclusive design is the right thing to do socially and commercially, but that there is still a long way to go.
The conversation really came alive when the panellists shared their hopes and dreams for the future of inclusive design in the hospitality industry. These spanned the practical:
- The importance of photographing and visually communicating accessible features digitally so that people with access needs can work out what will work for them ahead of booking because visual information is key.
- Having accessible rooms that also contain luxury features such as a sea view.
- The hospitality industry needing to up is game on staff training and training regarding disability and accessibility.
- Including and engaging a range of groups so that they feel included and not 'designed for' in an overtly called out way.
- Designing with consideration for the full spectrum of human needs and characteristics.
- Recognising and normalising disability.
- Moving the narrative from access to inclusion.
- A mindset shift among stakeholders such as tour operators that access and inclusion support the social element of ESG, as well as the environmental.
And the commercial:
- Designing inclusively from the outset will avoid retrofitting and therefore support Net Zero targets.
- Property valuers adding adequate value to properties that are getting accessible and inclusive build design right and making money from doing it.
Download our Accessible hospitality business case white paper to discover how Hotel Brooklyn has been able to report £217,000 additional revenue from accessible suites and events in its first full trading year.
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