Monday, 24 March 2014

Making Do

I awoke this morning to the sounds of hotel staff checking in the room to see if they could clean it. Apparently 8:18 AM is considered an appropriate time to check. I am in a hotel right now because of the disruption in my apartment. Yesterday the guys relocated all of my furniture and tore up the old carpet. Today the flooring team is in laying a new laminate floor for me, one that will be easier to handle in my wheelchair.

The hotel I am staying at is the Holiday Inn Calgary-Airport, a nice hotel where I have stayed in the past, albeit never in a wheelchair. I chose this hotel specifically because my brother Peter is staying here and I thought we might share a room, saving both of us half the cost. Unfortunately this hotel has but two wheelchair accessible rooms and both of them are currently under renovation, so I am staying in a standard room.

Staying in a standard room in almost any hotel means no access to the bathroom, tough navigation around furniture, narrow entry doors and just an all round fun time. I did this to myself; if I hadn't wanted to stay with Peter I am sure there would have been other hotels with handicapped rooms nearby. I know they exist; I've read about them online. I just wanted to spend an evening with my brother.

I thought about the ratio of handicapped rooms in this hotel, only two of them as opposed to the dozens of standard rooms. It made me think about the ratio of handicapped travelers to able bodied travelers. Standardization is critical to success in these branding efforts, where hotel chain looks for one kind of room and furnishes them all the same. It makes a cost difference and a presentation difference. Customers like to know what they are getting before they make the reservation.

The challenge for us wheelchair folks is that these accessible rooms are limited. They are often used up quickly; I regularly find that there is no room in the inn. It's just the nature of things; people who don't need the accessible rooms will ask for them because the rooms are larger and the bathrooms are larger too. There are increasing numbers of elderly people travelling, where the grab bars and wider room between the bed and the wall make a big difference. And then I show up.

I suspect that hotel chains will have to adapt over time; I also suspect it won't happen in a hurry. Business only changes when the market changes. This change will happen slowly. A change in the number of handicapped rooms will also happen slowly, especially given that hotels renovate about once every five years. In the mean time, we will just have to make do.

1 comment:

  1. I have so much to learn to make things easier my potential clients. Hard to figure out where to start.