Bigger towels, for one thing.
As the hospitality industry recovers from the impacts of COVID-19, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) identified accessible tourism as a “game-changer” for travel brands and businesses. Plus-size travelers are ready to make their needs known and have them met.
The hospitality industry is missing out on a large segment of the tourism market by neglecting to promote its accessibility facilities and features. Plus size travelers, mature travelers, travelers with disabilities, and limited mobility are offered fewer amenities by the hospitality industry for varying reasons. Lack of accessibility information is at the top of the list. Over 70 percent of American adults aged 20 and over are overweight or obese, according to the CDC. Travelers of size face unique obstacles when booking and visiting hotels or vacation properties.
Sharing more photos and listing details such as door widths, bed heights, and weight capacities help travelers with different accessibility needs identify which rooms can best accommodate them. Investing in accessibility gives hospitality brands and businesses a much-needed competitive edge post-pandemic. Below are some low-cost and no-cost ways to invest in accessibility and diversity.
1. Bigger Towels
The great thing about towels is that they come in a variety of sizes and softness options. However, the hospitality industry has a false idea of the size of the average traveler. Women make 85 percent of all travel decisions, and a study published in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, and Education shows that the average American woman is size 16 to 18. Bath towels and pool towels large enough to comfortably cover your guests should be at the top of the list for every hospitality brand and business.
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2. Larger Robes
Now that we know the American woman is between sizes 16 to 18, it’s clear that a one-size-fits-all bathrobe is far from sufficient. Height is another consideration when it comes to robe sizes. To accommodate their guests, hospitality companies and spas especially should invest in a variety of robe sizes. Larger robes should be available upon request.
3. Safe (Shower) Space
Shower stalls vary in size and shape, especially in historic destinations. While some of the suggestions will require an investment, others will ask that businesses are transparent about what’s currently available. Travelers with accessibility needs have to be able to look at bathroom photos first. A cost-free way to make your shower more fat-friendly is to share photos and dimensions. Cost-effective ways to make your shower more accessible are to add a shower wand and grab bars.
4. Have a Bidet
When it comes to toilets there are only two suggestions. Toilets should never be wedged into small spaces. There should be enough room for people of all sizes to sit comfortably. Bidets have been around for over 300 years. Using a bidet is cleaner than just using toilet paper and is a great accessible tool. People all over the world use it as a standard. 80 percent of households in Japan have a toilet with a bidet function or attachment. Investing in a bidet can significantly lower spending as Americans use about 34 million rolls of toilet paper a day. However, the toilet paper shortage of 2020 is the only proof you’ll need!
5. Supportive Beds
Beds have weight limits. This is another great time to be transparent and specific. List the bed’s weight capacity. Are two smaller beds combined to create a larger one? Plus size travelers need to be aware of this very unfortunate and uncomfortable situation before booking.
People of all sizes, ages, and ability levels love to travel however the height and size of a bed can be an issue. Most accommodations offer up to a queen-size bed, which can barely hold a plus-size couple comfortably. Investing in furniture with higher weight capacities is essential for inclusive and accessible companies.
6. Armless Chairs Everywhere
Safety is always the priority so investing in chairs sturdy enough to support guests of varying sizes is essential. Insider tip, travelers of size despise chairs with arms. They can quickly go from constricting to painful. The most comfortable chairs are armless. This includes restaurant chairs, event chairs, hotel room chairs, and poolside loungers.
7. Accessibility for All
Many hotels are prepared to receive guests with accessibility needs. Most don’t advertise the accessible facilities, equipment, and adaptations available. It’s important to create a page on your website that maps out the accessibility features available. For example, are all of the accessible rooms on the ground floor with level access to the street? What about the traveler who prefers a room with a view?
The “UNWTO Inclusive Recovery Guide – Socio-Cultural Impacts of COVID-19: Issue I Persons with Disabilities” outlines the steps that travel brands, businesses, and companies should take to become more inclusive and competitive.
8. Increase Staff Training
Every room has something different to offer, and each guest will have different requests. Staff must know how to offer their assistance to guests with different accessibility needs. This could involve identifying the best room for easy elevator access or the room with the bidet.
Embracing the diversity of travelers and their needs will result in a win-win for guests and the hospitality industry. Travel brands and businesses will profit from this competitive advantage, and guests with accessibility needs will feel more confident to explore, knowing that their needs were considered.