The Key Accessibility Features Hotel Owners Overlook

man in wheelchair holding suitcase in a hotel room

The Key Accessibility Features Hotel Owners Overlook

  1. Improved hotel check-in desks
  2. Wheelchair-accessible sinks in restrooms
  3. Properly outfitted showers
  4. Grab bars installed next to toilets
  5. Adult changing tables in restrooms


What is your biggest dream in life? Many would say: “to travel the world!” No matter where one is traveling, everybody deserves to stay in accommodations that feel both safe and comfortable.

While able-bodied individuals can focus on luxury hotel amenities such as jacuzzis and fitness centers, the considerations for people with disabilities look a lot different. An estimated 25.5 million people have travel-limiting disabilities, accounting for 8.5 percent of the population ages 5 and older.

These folks frequently wonder: will I be able to shower safely? Or use the toilet comfortably? Or even be able to check into the hotel without assistance? Traveling can be stressful enough without wondering if you will be able to perform basic tasks, which is what hotel accessibility should be a priority for your guests.

Hotel Accessibility and Tourism

Many hotels view accessibility as a compliance or regulatory requirement, rather than an asset. The World Health Organization estimates there are more than 1 billion people living with some kind of disability today. One travel industry study revealed more than 50% of the people with disabilities find travel considerably more difficult or near impossible. The National Travel Survey for 2020 found that disabled adults took 28% fewer trips on average than non-disabled adults. One of the primary reasons is lack of accessibility accommodations.

For these people and their travel companions, accessible hotel rooms are a major factor in where they choose to stay. Coupled with a growing senior tourism market, this is creating a significant demand for hotel owners and architects to meet these guests’ needs.

Building Hotel Guest Loyalty

AARP research shows that over the next 20 years, 75 million Baby Boomers will be aging into disability. This demographic has amassed the largest accumulation of wealth in history. They have both the time and desire to travel. However, many hotel proprietors fail to meet even the minimum accessibility standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Hotels are certainly required to meet ADA compliance standards, but going above and beyond to ensure guest comfort can result in valuable guest loyalty. Consider a family traveling with a disabled relative. If the disabled relative is treated compassionately and has access to all the necessary amenities for optimal comfort, their family members will seek that same care if and when they are in need of hotel accessibility features.

5 Key Hotel Accessibility Features

Careful attention to accessibility amenities can make a world of difference for a traveler with disabilities and keep them coming back to your hotel and recommending to others who are similarly situated. Here are five key hotel accessibility features that are most often overlooked by hotel owners.

  1. Improved hotel check-in desks

The check-in desk is the first place a guest is greeted. Hotels should endeavor to put their best foot forward and provide accessible check-in options. These desks are traditionally countertops at standing height, which is limiting to individuals who use a wheelchair. A standing desk makes it difficult or impossible for these guests to use credit card scanners, sign documents, use touch pads, or see computer monitors.

To make the check-in process more accessible to those with mobility needs, hotels should ensure a portion of their desk can accommodate wheelchair height. They can use an adjustable height table to provide a reachable surface and a space for a wheelchair underneath.

Flexible and accessible check-in for those who need it creates a more dignified experience for the customer from the moment they walk in the door, and a higher probability of them returning for a future stay.

  1. Wheelchair-accessible sinks in restrooms

While complimentary hotel soaps are a nice amenity, they are virtually useless if a guest cannot reach the sink properly. If a sink is too high or there is not adequate room underneath to fit a wheelchair, guests are severely limited when it comes to hand washing, teeth brushing, or other basic personal hygiene activities.

The ADA outlines the requirements for proper knee and toe space to enable users to reach faucet controls, soap dispensers, and other operable parts. To guarantee sink access to everyone, hotel owners can install powered height-adjustable sinks like the Matrix Medium vanity wash basin. Not only does this make the sink accessible, but also makes certain that soap dispensers and personal grooming accessories are well within reach.

  1. Properly outfitted showers

Another area that hotels often fall short is the guests’ showers. It is common for owners to make some level of effort, such as installing a shower that allows for wheelchair access. However, they often miss the mark by only including a free-moving plastic shower chair, which poses an even greater risk to the user as these cannot be properly secured.

The solution is to install a height-adjustable, wall-mounted shower chair like the PLUS shower seat. Hotel guests who require these will be able to shower more easily and securely than with the typical and unsafe removable chairs, creating a much safer showering experience.

Guests should not have to worry about whether or not they are physically capable of taking a comfortable shower when staying at a hotel. Accessibility amenities like these can make a world of difference to the enjoyment of a person’s hotel stay.

  1. Grab bars next to toilets

We all have bathroom needs, however, not everybody can access a toilet so easily. For individuals who use wheelchairs, the process of transferring from the chair to the toilet is considerably difficult if they cannot stabilize themselves. It is, therefore, crucial to include grab bars next to hotel toilets.

ADA hotel compliance guidelines dictate that grab bars should be provided on the side wall closest to the toilet and also placed on the wall behind the toilet. You can go a step further and provide grab bars that are height adjustable, such as the PLUS support arm.

Installing these supportive structures are not only beneficial for those in wheelchairs, but also walkers, or anyone with even a minor injury that impedes stability.

  1. Adult changing tables in restrooms

Even when hotels make an effort to provide reasonable bathroom accommodations, there is one segment of the population that is usually excluded from these considerations. Individuals who require adult changing tables, along with their carers, are infrequently able to find them in hotels.

adult changing tables from patient safety usa

Travel can become very difficult for these people, and as a result, they often choose to not travel at all. No one should have to refrain from travel because of such a disability. To properly accommodate these guests, hotel owners must add an adult changing table in their accessible hotel rooms.

The Pressalit Adult Changing Bench 2000 is a great option and is electrically height adjustable. Using a folding, wall-mounted changing table provides the necessary accessibility with the convenience of folding away for those who do not require it.

Make Hotel Accessibility Information Readily Available

Meeting hotel ADA compliance standards is a requirement, but promoting that you are proud of your compliance efforts is a good marketing tactic. If you’re a hotel owner with great accessibility amenities, make sure prospective guests know what you have to offer. Be explicit about what ADA accessibility features the hotel provides.

Clearly map out where the accessible rooms are located in the hotel and provide this resource on your website. Go the extra mile and train your staff on the needs of travelers with disabilities. Making these changes is not only good for your business, but they are also a compassionate way to help guests with disabilities enjoy the experience of traveling.

To better accommodate your guests with disabilities, contact Patient Safety USA today to improve your hotel accessibility.

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