Embracing Diversity: Ensuring Accessibility for All

As the world marks United Nations Zero Discrimination Day, it’s timely to reflect on the values of inclusivity and accessibility. Everyone deserves to feel welcome, valued, and catered for, regardless of their background, abilities, or identity.

Stephanie Evans, Cluster Sales and Marketing Manager at The Imperial Hotel  discusses how she ensures every guest feels welcome at the property.

Creating a Barrier-Free Environment

Accessibility is a core principle that guides everything we do. From the moment guests arrive, we strive to eliminate any barriers that may hinder their experience.

We want to ensure that all guests have equal access and assistance from the moment they arrive. The Imperial Hotel’s car park is fully accessible with ramped access leading to the south entrance. To support our guests, we have installed a doorbell that connects directly to our reception, ensuring 24/7 assistance is available for anyone who needs it.

Inclusive Accommodation:

We know that comfort is paramount during any stay and we have a range of accessible accommodation. Of our 180 bedrooms, 150 have step-free access and four are specifically adapted for wheelchair use.

All our rooms meet the needs of guests with different abilities, from direct dial telephones, wet rooms, and ensuite facilities to audio fire alarm systems and vibrating deaf-guard systems. We also have a hearing loop on reception to ensure that guests with hearing impairments can communicate easily. Our goal is to exceed expectations and provide a truly exceptional experience for all.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion:

Beyond physical accessibility, we recognise the importance of fostering a culture of acceptance and respect for diversity.

Last September, The Imperial hosted the Deaf UK 50 Plus conference where we welcomed 330 profoundly deaf delegates. Operationally it was a big challenge, and we had to ensure that our health and safety strategy took their disabilities into consideration. To ensure that everyone felt comfortable and included, the hotel team learnt basic sign language so that they could assist guests during their stay.

The organiser said that their guests felt empowered and comfortable engaging with staff during their stay and that they truly appreciated the team going above and beyond. Their feedback revealed that this is not something that they’d experienced previously, nor something that is commonly practiced in the industry, so that cultivated a real sense of pride, achievement and compassion among our team members who embraced the operational challenge.

We also have a regular client, part of the Cancer Laryngectomee Trust, which joins us for a summer social and a Christmas party every year.  Many of their guests have had throat cancers, which means they can struggle with consuming some foods. Our talented chefs wanted to find a way for those guests to have a dignified experience and enjoy the same foods as everyone else, so they pureed the food and presented it in an incredibly beautiful way. For us it was a small gesture, but the impact was immeasurable.

Zero Discrimination Day may be a one-day event, but for us it’s a year-round commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of our guests. By prioritising accessibility, promoting diversity, and fostering inclusivity, we strive to create an environment where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued. As an industry we must move forward and continue to work together to build a world where discrimination has no place, and every individual can enjoy the freedom to be themselves, unapologetically.