Helping Hotels Become Autism Friendly

A Twitter friend asked me the other day, whether I knew if a particular hotel in London was ‘autism friendly.’
We had never stayed at this specific property, so I suggested she contacted the hotel directly and asked whether it could provide the accommodations she needed. I mentioned that based on our decade of travel that would be the best way to ensure a  stress-free stay.

But then it dawned on me–why are parents even struggling with these extra steps?
In today’s world with such a surge in the number of autism families ,hotels don’t need to wait to be asked by parents but should strive to become much more autism-friendly on their own.
In fact, a move like that by the leading chains is bound to lead to increased revenue and return business as well as revolutionize  the way the hospitality industry approaches the entire  autism community.

And, in most cases; becoming autism-friendly wouldn’t even involve spending money on remodeling rooms or gadgets but tweaking existing services in five simple steps.

 Helping hotels become Autism Friendly bed



Have special needs agents 

One of the reasons we love staying on Marriott’s properties is the fact the chain has designated special needs’ desk that helps travelers with specific accommodations,
It provides patrons with a one-stop solution eliminating the tedious job of repeating your list of accommodations to different staff members and can prove extremely useful for complex overseas itineraries that involve multiple stays in several countries.

Though this might not be a viable solution for the smaller hotels, it is a valuable marketing concept that medium to large hotel chains should consider copying.


Add website assistance

A feature I often use and wholeheartedly recommend is an online special request box ( like the one available on Priority Club’s website when booking online) where I can quickly mention my feather allergy and need for quiet and connecting rooms at booking.

Furthermore, it might be beneficial for hotels to designate a well trained customer-service person with some knowledge of autism to respond to any additional question via a link on their web page.
Remember: some parents might be more comfortable with sharing the information with one person than reiterating their child’s information to every hotel staff member they meet.

Mark particular rooms as quiet

Hotels are already required to tag some places as wheelchair user accessible to accommodate mobility disabilities so why not mark ‘quiet rooms to help the growing autistic travel community?
All the hotel needs to do is mark rooms that are away from noisy venues like lounges, elevators and vending machines as ‘quiet’ on their website for parents to choose from.In cities with busy traffic; rooms facing interior courtyards should also be recommended. for noise sensitive travelers

Get Staff trained 

Even though many parents don’t share their kids’ diagnosis -their particular needs might still surface in their requests and complaints, so appropriate autism staff training is essential.
Sometimes solutions to an issue are solved by ‘thinking outside the box’.
An example that comes to mind is the staffer at the J W Marriott Berlin hotel that noticed how my son was distraught after being told their restaurant was full, and he couldn’t dine there.

The front desk manager, single-handedly, put two lobby tables together, procured extra chairs and brought our ordered dishes from the restaurant to the lobby area so we could finally dine after arriving at the hotel from our long-haul flight.

Provide additional safety measures

Hotel officials should know that the number one travel concern of parents (especially of younger ones) is that their kids might open the room door and wander off unattended.
Some rooms may face a double whammy with a front as well as a balcony door accessible for children to open.
By providing inexpensive additional locks (placed higher up than usual) or mini dual contact noise sounding alarms on the room doors, hotels might not only be able to avoid a potential safety problem but provide parents with much-needed peace of mind.

Have you stayed at a hotel with your autistic child and received special accommodations -share  your experience with us.

 

 

Comments

  1. thanks for share good informative information,continue..

  2. Thank you for this informative article. My son is 11 and has mod to severe autism. We do not mind letting people know because he obviously is not NT. And this lets people know what is going on with our family. I think people most only stare because they are wondering what is happening. I am also guilty of that. We did not take him to a hotel for years. But, now that he is able to go to sleep alright we do take him to hotels. His main issues involve meal times so I pack a lot of snacks and we order in. Or some of go out to eat and bring back food. As it looks now I do not think we will ever brave a flight.

    • Hi Erin,
      Great to hear you are taking your son to hotels! I do believe you will be able to take him on flights too since it is mainly about practicing.Consider starting with a short flight of a hour or two and see how it goes.

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