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Expedia.com and Hotels.com

Have you heard? Expedia.com and its subsidiary Hotels.com have rolled out search tools that allow travelers with disabilities to find and book lodgings that feature accessible bathrooms, roll-in showers and Braille signage. This new feature comes in response to a lawsuit filed by disabled customers who alleged that Hotels.com refused to guarantee wheelchair-accessible reservations.

In 2009, the company agreed to improve access as part of a settlement. Though Expedia.com says it now lists more than 15,000 hotels with amenities for guests who have disabilities, not everyone is finding the search tools user-friendly. If any of my readers have experience with this new tool, please share.

Though I am glad to hear of this new offering, I am saddened once again, to know that it was as a result of a lawsuit. Companies should want to meet the unique needs of and market to the disability community not only because they have to or even because someone thinks it’s the “right” thing to do. They should do it because it’s a smart thing to do in terms of sustainable revenue generation from a very large, loyal segment of the population.

It’s not just a strategic advantage, it’s a business imperative.