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Microtel Woos Travelers with Special Needs

September 17 2009 | by

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Microtel Inns & Suites has been wooing — and wowing — its guests with disabilities for many years. This budget hotel chain offers three ADA-room designs: a single queen, double queen and suite.

Travelers with disabilities have $250 billion in discretionary income, according to the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality, of which Microtel is a sponsor. “This is a huge, burgeoning market,“ says Roy Flora, group president of Microtel, speaking at the 2009 U.S. Business Leadership Network conference in Washington, D.C. “We want to be the preferred hotel chain for people with disabilities.”

An accessible hotel isn’t just about getting in and out of your room. For people in wheelchairs, it’s the little features that add up, such as door viewers that are positioned lower, roll-under sinks, and a removable showerhead. For little people — those who are 4′ 10″ and under — Microtel provides Short Stature Accessibility Kits at every hotel. The kit includes items such as a stepstool with handle, an ergonomic reach grabber, and door latch and closet rod adapters. “Imagine how frustrated it would be if you couldn’t reach the sink to brush your teeth, or reach your mattress and have to sleep on the floor,” says Flora.

Guests who are hearing-impaired will appreciate telephones with the ability to boost the amplification up to 20. In the gym, there are upper-body-only cardiovascular machines for those who cannot use their legs or are in a wheelchair.

Microtel is also the only budget chain to implement a training program known as Opening Doors, which teaches hotel staff to be better able to respond to the needs of travelers with disabilities. “You can have the Taj Mahal of hotels but if your staff doesn’t know how to treat guests then it all goes to waste,” Flora says.

Microtel’s web site features a special section dedicated to travelers with disabilities. There’s also a virtual tour where visitors can actually view a 360-degree view of typical Microtel ADA guest rooms and a lobby. “Accessibility is a philosophy and behavior that involves all aspects of our business,” Flora says.

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