Those of you who’ve read my blog of my trip to see Kaiser Chiefs in Kingston at the end of July will know that I booked an accessible room at one of the Travelodges in Kingston. But when I arrived to check in I found that there were no accessible rooms left for me. Sooooo basically I’d paid for something specifically so I could access it as a solo wheelchair user and didn’t get what I’d paid for. With that personal experience in mind, here are my top 5 tips for what to do in these situations.
Identify the Issue & Why It’s Happened
So, first thing’s first, identify the issue. Is there an issue with the booked hotel not be as accessible as stated or not having the stated equipment or adaptations available in the actual room? Or it that, like me, the booked accessible room was simply not available?
The next step is to find out why it’s happened, is it a human staff error (like a wrong entry into a booking system or a note missing about accessibility requirements)? Is it a misinformation issue (Stating some accessibility information on the website that doesn’t actually exist at the hotel)? Or is it, as in my case, a systems issue (whereby the system shows more accessible rooms for sale than there actually are)? The cause of the issue can inform point 3 below.
Another point is to work out what your minimum requirements are. In other words what is the minimum level of accessibility you require for a comfortable stay? For example, in my situation I could make a standard room (as opposed to an accessible room) work as long as I could fit my electric chair in, I mean I’d have to crawl to the bathroom, but I was willing to do that for a one night stay but I know for some people that’s not possible. What I’m saying here is you know your accessibility needs and don’t accept anything that you’re not comfortable with in terms of the accessibility you require.
Now I’ll admit this next point is something I don’t always do, and I should probably start following my own advice, but it’s best to try and remain calm. Believe me, I know this is easier said than done as accessibility issues are BEYOND frustrating. But, in the case of issues caused by system errors (this is why it’s important to identify the cause of the issue in point 1), it is likely not to be the staff’s fault and yelling won’t change anything. Obviously getting some kind of resolution is necessary but it’s probably easier to do if you’re as calm as possible. Again, I know this one isn’t easy and I’m not the calmest person in the face of accessibility issues. I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I was a pushover when it comes to lack of access.
Don’t Settle If You’re Not Happy
As I mentioned resolutions in the previous point. It’s important to remember you don’t have to settle for a hotel’s resolution to a problem if you’re not happy with it. For example, In my situation I was offered a move to another hotel with travel expenses paid for by the Travelodge, but I declined this as I’d picked my hotel due to its location, and by moving hotels I’d be losing the aforementioned location.
Keep Record of Issue(s) and Find Out Complaints Procedure
Finally, find out the complaints procedure (in my case it was an online form followed by some emails with the customer services team and it’s probably likely to be like this but make sure you know). Also, keep a record of the issue(s) in case you are delayed in making a complaint (e.g. Needing to wait until you return from a trip and have decent internet connection. A record can be kept through messages to friends and family (like I did) or a note in a notebook… Orrrrrr you could start a blog.
Hope these tips are of use to someone
Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)