Oct 10

By Elizabeth Johnson

Revised Training Program Highlights Service Strategies for Travelers with Disabilities

Responding to a quickly growing segment of the traveling population, the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) has revised Elements of Service: Serving Guests with Disabilities, an online training program that teaches hospitality professionals how to provide superior guest service to guests with physical disabilities.

“This subject is much more in the public eye than it was even in 2016 or 2017,” said Peter Slatin, a hotel consultant and co-designer of the program. “This is a very critical time to catch this wave. It is inevitable that people with disabilities will be coming to your hotel. If by boosting recognition and awareness of and welcome to people with disabilities, you can boost your average occupancy by even 1 percent, that’s real. If you don’t and you make a bad impression, the social media outflow is very quick and very harsh.”

According to Open Doors Organization, from 2014-2016, 26 million Americans with physical disabilities took 73 million trips, spending $17.3 billion. It is a market that is growing by 22 percent annually, according to Travel Agent Central.

Elements of Service provides all hospitality professionals from top to bottom with the tools they need to make sure a property’s interactions with people with disabilities are positive ones.

The program:

  • Teaches how to effectively and confidently interact with guests with disabilities
  • Uses service situations, showing how a poor response can cause distress or even danger
  • Takes learners through hotel experiences for travelers with disabilities
  • Equips hospitality professionals with communication skills and tools to create outstanding service interactions.

The newly revised program expands the information on mobility impairments, discussing ways to prepare and interact with people who have mobility impairments and casting light upon environmental concerns.

It features a more modern, flatter and elegant course design. It can drop easily into learning management systems to allow managers to track who takes the training and when they complete it. Employees can take the program on computer, tablet or even their smart phone.

“The new course has more mobile-friendly output and the look and feel are different,” said Jason Willensky, the program co-designer and an instructional designer with an M.Ed. in Educational Technology. “The graphics are upgraded, the design is more elegant, the illustrations are more diverse, and the interactions are more intuitive. Learners have to keep their fingers moving, so people are more engaged.”

AHLEI recognizes that this fast-growing market has individual needs that hospitality professionals aren’t always equipped to deal with. Elements of Service offers assistance and tools for people at every level of the hotel, from corporate executives to frontline and back of the house employees.