Sunday, June 27, 2010

New non-profit hotel targets the need of the visually impaired!

A new not-for-profit hotel group has been launched to specialise in accessible travel. Rebranded as Vision Hotels, the group’s four AA three-star hotels are run by national charity Action for Blind People and are already equipped with all the needs for disabled guests, as well as families and couples. As a not-for-profit group, all the money is ploughed back into the hotels. “The charity has operated the hotels for many years and some time ago we wanted to market them to people with disabilities, so we rebranded” Head of Vision Hotels Paul Morrison told Travel Daily.

“Because our hotels have the facilities and are fully-accessible it makes commercial sense to market them this way”. Although the group is not exclusive to accessible tourism, each hotel features a range of facilities for different guests. “If you benchmark our facilities to other accessible hotels then they are the same, including flat level access and wide-fitting doors,” said Morrison. “We are different because as Heritage properties, we have tonal contrasts between the walls and floors, which is more pleasing for visually impaired guests. There is also special tactile flooring so people can feel the difference underfoot.” Other facilities include liquid level indicators, information in various formats and a place for pet and guide dogs. However, the group has also launched a new website, which was custom-built to help visually-impaired users. “Lots of leading hotels have websites that are not DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) certified and these are not suitable for some users,” said Morrison.

“We have set up our website from scratch which meets the criteria and we have invested in online booking solutions to meet our client base.” Through the new booking system, users can change the size of font or background colours to their needs. Looking towards the future, Morrison said the group has no plans to acquire new properties yet as a lot of money has been invested into the website and rebranding. However, it is looking to train agents in accessible tourism and build its available resources. “We work with Creative Travel in Devon and all its staff has gone through visual awareness training so they can manage clients needs better,” he revealed. “We feel we have a lot of information to give the industry so we will be looking to develop those.”


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