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As somebody who’s helped to grow a company from 13 people to nearly a thousand, I know very well the excitement that comes with having a mindset focused entirely on growth. Every newly acquired customer, every new office and every milestone means the gap between you and your nearest competitor is that much bigger and that much harder to overtake.

As the travel industry begins to rally, technology companies are taking steps to help their customers get back to business. Strategies run the gamut from complimentary webinars and virtual learning events to special promotions and discounts, all designed to enable hotels and other hospitality venues to reopen confidently and economically amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Room Service and the New Normal - Food always has been, and always will be, a major part of the travel experience. But in a post-pandemic world, change is inevitable. Crowded restaurants and menus which have been handled many times may well (even temporarily) be avoided by wary travelers.

Over the past few years, there has been much media hype around the concept of a voice-controlled hotel room. It’s not hard to see why: voice assistant devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home achieved remarkable penetration in the consumer market in just a few years. Statista reports that about 157 million smart speakers were installed in U.S. households as of December 2019, an astonishing 1.22 devices per household. I haven’t found hard numbers on penetration in hotels, but based on the companies in the market and what I know of their size and success, it’s still very low, probably still under 1% of US hotel rooms. Is that about to change? Should it?

As we examine and develop new strategies for the changes that we can expect to see in the hospitality industry post-crisis, we are also starting to envision the world beyond the pandemic and to the new normal of radically shifted travel consumer expectations and preferences. The probability of guest technology expectations worldwide significantly changing becomes high as guests prefer a more touchless and fully mobile-enabled hospitality experience post-COVID-19. The future of hospitality has always been mobile–but COVID-19 will accelerate this trend from a nice-to-have to a must-have for hoteliers.



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ADA Compliance: Is Your Website in Violation?

02/10/2016
by Nimesh Dinubhai
Is your hotel website ADA compliant? If not, you could be in serious violation.
In 1990, Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). At that time, the public Internet did not exist. But two landmark cases heightened oversight of government and advocacy groups, and set the precedent that public websites that offer a service need to comply with ADA standards.

In 2008, Target Corp. settled a class action lawsuit filed in California by the National Federation of the Blind, who claimed blind people could not access information on the retail site. In 2012, Netflix, an online video streaming service, settled a suit filed by the National Association of the Deaf and other plaintiffs in Massachusetts that led to online captioning on content provided by Netflix.

Today, ADA advocates and regulators include hotel websites as those requiring assistive technology for disabled browsers and prospective guests to access the sites. The ADA was strengthened in 2010 when it was updated with the “accessible design” regulations. Although the revision impacts hotel properties, technology is a category of awareness, including an accessible website on which all people can learn about your hotel and make a reservation.

According to the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, one in five non-institutionalized civilians in the U.S. have at least one disability. One in five is a huge number, and it is really not surprising that the ADA compliance regulations would finally come to play online for the public sector. 

In an opinion letter dated Sept. 9, 1996, The U.S. Department of Justice states:

“Covered entities under the ADA are required to provide effective communication, regardless of whether they generally communicate through print media, audio media or computerized media such as the Internet. Covered entities that use the Internet for communications regarding their programs, goods or services must be prepared to offer those communications through accessible means as well.”

Basically this means that the ADA doesn’t just apply to the physical world, but also to the cyberspace world as well. 

What does this mean to you?

If you are looking to create a new website or want to revamp your existing hotel website, please keep ADA requirements in mind. 

It is important to work with a web development team that is knowledgeable about not only what is new with the ever-changing technological advancements of web design, but also can 100 percent guarantee ADA compliancy to give you a stress-free hotel website. 

The cost of making a site ADA compliant does not have to be expensive. Building a new site is easier than retrofitting an existing site, but the key factor is the design team’s knowledge about accessibility. An ADA compliant website will have closed captions to videos, and include audio to descriptions. If an image is also used as a link, the alt tag must describe the graphic and the link destination.  The key, of course is to find a web design company that knows the ins and outs of creating the perfect site the first time around to save you money in the future.
 
These are just a drop in the bucket of technical additions that must be retrofitted into existing or added to all new websites. The good news is that hotels that implement these accessibilities on their websites can earn back the cost as well as new revenue from online bookings by disabled customers. Of course, your hotel will receive positive online feedback as well, which we all know goes a long way for repeat and future bookings. 

The most inexpensive way to create an award winning and profitable website is to do it right the first time. Take the time to do the research and increase your site to a whole new market waiting to book your next room!

About The Author
Nimesh Dinubhai
President
Websrefresh


Nimesh Dinubhai completed his studies in 2003 and launched Websrefresh to help businesses grow their ROI. He also owns two Arizona hotels, one of which earned the Historical Hotel Award in 2014.

 
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