Gold award: Scandic Hotels
Not only are Scandic Hotels about location, location, location, but they are also about information, information, information. The bugbear of most people with access issues, especially in mainstream tourism, is that there is NO information to help them on websites. Nordic Hotel chain Scandic Hotels has proved that this is actually a no brainer, leading the way in mass tourism becoming accessible tourism.
Scandic Hotels has a network of 230 hotels, catering both for corporates and families, in the Nordic countries, Germany, Belgium and Poland. When you go on their website, you will see a link to 'Special Needs', not just a badge to say 'wheelchair friendly'. This link opens up a whole world of information for people travelling with access issues, be they visual, aural, cognitive and so on. They have put accessible tourism at the core of what they do, not only to support their brand image of being a hotel chain that welcomes everyone, no matter what their background or needs, but also through a realisation that there is a rapidly growing market for fully integrated, accessible accommodation in the mass tourism sector. Because, like it or not, we are all getting older and none of us wants to stop travelling, thank you.
From creating the role of Accessibility Ambassador and their own accessibility standard, to refitting rooms and facilities, Scandic get it. For example, the information given on their website goes way beyond the generic 'We have 5 wheelchair friendly rooms', but details door measurements, design aspects such as wardrobe openings or desk design, bed height, bathroom specifications and so on. They also make their resources and knowledge around accessibility freely available to their competitors and other tourism businesses. Because Scandic Hotels knows that giving the full picture, with regards to accessible tourism facilities, is the only picture we should be giving in this day and age, to be fully responsible and respectful towards all travellers.