Open up new opportunities and feel good by improving accessibility
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Ever considered the accessibility of your vacation rental? You can open up new marketing opportunities and feel good too by making it more accessible.
Accessibility is a big priority for many of us – more than you might think. There are more than 11 million people with disabilities in the UK alone – around 18 percent of the population. In America, recent estimates reveal 39.2 million or 12.6 percent of the total population have some form of disability. Worldwide, an estimated 1 billion people, or 15 percent of the world’s population, live with disabilities. They are the world’s largest minority.
Disability covers a wide spectrum, from people with hearing and sight impairment or limited mobility to tetraplegic people confined to a wheelchair for life. In between there are many, among them the growing elderly population, for whom mobility and ‘accessibility’ is problematic.
Accessibility and ease of use
By ‘accessibility’ we mean physical access to – and ease of use of – a vacation rental property.
How accessible is yours? With even slight modifications you could probably improve accessibility to tap into a whole new market that you never considered: disabled people. There is real potential out there.
Some owners make a serious investment to make their properties totally accessible with chairlifts and bathroom hoists. And there is a great demand for properties with these facilities. But owners need not go to such lengths unless they are planning to specialize in providing rentals for people with major disabilities.
Options you might consider offering are ‘increased accessibility’ or a ‘wheelchair friendly’ environment. Holiday Cottages opted for the increased accessibility approach and offers the following welcome to disabled people:
‘Whatever your accessibility needs we offer holiday cottages with increased accessibility all across the UK. Search for properties to suit your needs, some are fully accessible for a wheelchair user; many include ground floor bedrooms and bathrooms, and wide corridors and doorways.’
To establish which properties suit their particular needs, disabled people are invited to browse the cottages offered. The site gives descriptions of any accessibility features such as wheelchair ramps, wet rooms etc. and advises potential guests to phone with questions or for further details.
So, if you do happen to have ground floor bedrooms and bathrooms, wide corridors and doorways which will accommodate people with walking aids or wheelchairs then you could begin marketing to part of this large group right away.
Wheelchair friendly accommodation
Another company which has given careful consideration to disabled needs is Sykes Cottages. They promise ‘wheelchair friendly’ accommodation:
‘The following self catering holiday cottages may be able to accommodate wheelchair users, disabled or accompanied disabled people. The facilities in these properties vary – some may simply have toilets or showers with wheelchair access, while others are equipped with ramps, wet rooms, ground floor bedrooms and even a Doc M disability pack.’
One of the featured properties shows what can be done to make a property wheelchair-friendly. This is how they describe it:
‘This Somerset cottage has been well thought out and offers superb facilities for disabled guests with wider doorways, lower worktops in the kitchen, a wet room and conveniently-placed electric sockets and switches, along with a paved garden and a ramp.’
Needs are individual and specific
Disabled people often have individual and very specific needs. So it is important to specify any features your property offers that can be classed as providing increased accessibility. It’s too late once the guest has arrived to discover that your corridor is too narrow for a specialized wheelchair.
Be as transparent as you can about the facilities available and do not over promise.
Homes and Rooms subscribers who wish to market to this group have an advantage over owners without their own website who rely on listing sites for their bookings. They can choose to show as many images as they wish on their site, they can select which features they wish to emphasise and have control over how their offer is presented. Then, when guests book via their website, they can take secure payment direct without any intervention by a third party who might delay payment as well as charging a booking fee. If you are not already a subscriber, you can sign up today for your free 14-day trial.
To get ideas on what you might need to make your property more accessible and how to present your newly accessible property to the market, do a web sweep of agencies and other rental properties offering disabled friendly facilities.
Disability organizations can help
Once you are ready to begin marketing, make a list of disability organizations and contact those that you feel are appropriate to your property. They can advise you on what facilities you may need and may even be prepared to list your property to publicize to members.
Because there is such a shortage of good properties offering these facilities, once your property has attracted bookings, others will follow. Repeat bookings and word of mouth are strong in the disabled community. As ever, favorable guest reviews carry a lot of weight in decision making. Check out the favorable reviews on a site that caters for disabled people to see how delighted they are when their needs are being met.