Recently I stayed at a lovely hotel and was randomly assigned a wheelchair accessible hotel guest room. The room was clean, spacious and had a nice balcony with a water view. The bathroom boasted solid ADA (American with Disabilities Act) recommended accessible features such as a roll-in shower, shower seat, hand-held shower head and grab bars.
This fine hotel did a lot right but they overlooked something major. The lighting in the room, and especially in the bathroom, was an absolute mess-not ideal at all for the accessible hotel guest room target market.
Many hotels, restaurants and other businesses have taken a liking to “mood lighting.” You know–that hip barely-there glow that screams “trendy.”
This hotel embraced mood lighting not only in its lobby and restaurant but even took it a step further-it’s in their accessible hotel guest rooms. To make matters worse this mood lighting was also featured in their accessible bathrooms.
Presbyopia, or difficulty seeing objects up close, is common in persons over
40 and continues to worsen until our sixties, then leveling off. The American Optometric Association’s website (www.aoa.org) recommends additional lighting to minimize the impact of presbyopia. Since a great many persons requesting a wheelchair accessible hotel guest room will be Baby Boomers or older, this trendy bathroom lighting is not a good fit for most of their target market.
As a 40-something with very mild presbyopia, I struggled even reading the faucet’s hot and cold markers in that bathroom. I wondered about the tasks someone with a wheelchair, walker or cane would be struggling with. Would they be able to read a medication label if it were stored in their toiletry bags? Would they accidentally use the conditioner instead of the shampoo while showering? Wouldn’t their fall risks increase? I thought about how many problems could be avoided by simply adding some extra lighting fixtures to this accessible bathroom. The hotel customers would have a better service experience because they would be less frustrated. But more importantly, a simple plan for better lighting would decrease the incidence of accidents and could even prevent potential lawsuits.
Are you meeting the true needs of your target market? What small tweaks could you make today to increase customer satisfaction and minimize time-consuming and costly problems?