ADVOCACY

“If you have a voice, use it. If you have legs, stand up. If you have feet, step up. If you have each other, fight together.” ― Janna Cachola

 


 ADA

I am hearing from our members on a regular basis on the increase of letters being received from attorneys or justice groups around the country blanketing our members with letters accusing properties of not being ADA compliant, with no real basis in their claims or representing individuals that never stayed at these properties.  These letters are outlining claims of non-compliance for both the Physical side of ADA and the Website side of ADA.  

This past fall Lisa Kolb (Acorn Internet Services) did a series of webinars, one on the required website side of ADA and one on the physical side of the newest lawsuits happening.  The data covered in these webinars provides some great insight into what innkeepers should be doing to protect themselves in case of a lawsuit.

It is our understanding that there is an attorney in California that has filed over 250 this year. Also, an attorney in Florida who has now branched out into other nearby states with lawsuits. I met with one of our members in Pennsylvania yesterday that recently received this letter from the Florida attorney.  There are other AIHP allied partners that are also working on this for their clients and we will be collectively trying to gather as much information as we can from our partners to be able to share with our lodging members who may be facing these issues.

We are actively working with a few of our larger state partners who have attorney relationships to see what options may be available to help our members with guidance on these issues.  If you are hit with a suit you should contact your attorney and where it may include your website you should contact your webmaster and marketing firm.  As I mentioned we are looking for additional resources for members that may not have attorneys or other resources they can turn to for help. 

Some good information came out of these webinars (*Thank you to Lisa and her team at Acorn Internet Services for providing the webinar and information to AIHP and our members)

Physical ADA

Whether you are exempt or not from providing ADA accessible guest rooms, the best practice is to tell your guests what you provide, or why you are exempt, on both your website and when appropriate on your booking engine.

Leaving this information off your site because you are exempt (5 rooms or less and live on premise or have documented Historical exemptions) does not help a potential disabled guest determine if they can or cannot stay at your facility. This is the basis on which most of the newest lawsuits are occurring in California from the Manning Law firm.

Website ADA – Even though not mandated by the DOJ, lawsuits are still occurring. You will want to work with your webmaster to follow the appropriate WCAG guidelines.

You can test each page of your site and booking engine using Chrome’s Accessibility testing tool, or https://achecker.ca/checker/index.php to determine open issues. You want to score at 100% or have no issues, unless your webmaster can document and explain to you why you are not getting a perfect score.

Sometimes widgets and plugins an Innkeeper chooses may cause ADA to not pass with a perfect score. Though this is NOT all that needs to be done from the website side. You will also want to test your site with a text to voice tool such as https://www.nvaccess.org/ and attempt to maneuver through your navigation, etc. If you cannot tab in a logical manner (top left corner to bottom right corner) again, you will need to have your webmaster assist. 

You can listen to the webinars here:

Physical side of ADA

Website side of ADA

The PowerPoint on ADA Overview Physical  Requirements for both Exempt and Non-Exempt Properties.  

Additional Resources

ADA Assessments and Consulting

Universal Designers and Consultants, Inc.

State Licensed – Registered Accessibility Specialists in Texas

Meeting Online Accessibility Standards

AC Checker

Web Accessibility Tool

Web Evaluation Tools


Disclaimer: The information provided by Acorn Internet Services, Inc and AIHP, is not intended and should not be taken as legal advice. You should contact an attorney for assistance and advice on specific ADA web and physical preparation at your property.

 


 Booking Direct

A month or so ago in partnership with Acorn Internet Services, the national associations hosted a webinar with the industry to conducted a brainstorming session around the idea of the industry collectively working together to promote/educate “your guests” about the benefits of “Booking Direct.”

Hosting this brainstorming session was one of the initiatives that came from our Google Taskforce, which was created to gather industry feedback and evaluate potential action we could take as an industry. 

Prior to this session, our workgroup had done a survey in which 1,000 consumers were surveyed.  They were asked the following – “When searching for lodging in Google if you click on the blue “BOOK A ROOM” button, do you think you are booking directly with the lodging property.”

Based on the survey, 70% think Googles “Book A Room” button goes directly to the “hotel.”  This feedback in part, lead to hosting of a webinar to garner industry feedback and involvement.

If you missed the webinar you can view it here. (password: 2018FFAvideo). 

WAYS TO BE SUPPORT THIS INITIATIVE

Get Involved - our task force has established a website (www.bookdirect.education), where members of our industry can go to find information on this initiative.  Also, ways in which we are asking you to consider getting involved.  This is going to take a group effort to have any impact.  Note that this website is a work in progress and we will continue to provide updates.

We are asking members of AIHP and the industry to volunteer to get involved.  We need your help - there is a Volunteer form as a part of the website, where you can sign up to participate. 

Participate in Global Booking Direct Day on February 6th.  We will be supporting the global outreach on the 6th, and we will be asking you to do the same.   Stay tuned… In the coming days, we will be sharing some suggested ways you can participate on February 6th


 

Panic Button Legislation

US Hotel Industry Commits to Giving Panic Buttons to Workers  

Deanna Ting, Skift

House Bill 139 was just introduced in the New Mexico legislature, which would require “hotel” employers to provide employees who work alone in guest rooms with a panic button.  A few of the stipulations that would be in HB 139

-          Provide an employee working alone with a panic button

-          Keep a record of any accusations that the employer receives that a guest has committed an act towards an employee

-          An employer must maintain a list of all guests accused

-          Decline service for three years to any guest on that list

-          Post a notice on the back of the door that informs guests of the law

Please continue to share with me any relevant legislative, or regulatory changes, that you are seeing around the county.


 Short-Term Rental Platforms

The Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals (AIHP), the leading voice for innkeepers and allied partners that support the U.S. innkeeping industry, has a strong position paper addressing short-term rental properties listed on online platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway. AIHP believe that individuals who list properties on these platforms, but who may not be properly regulated or pay appropriate taxes, should be held to those same standards and regulations as professionally-run B&Bs and inns. AIHP also encourages its members to list their properties on these platforms to take advantage of the expansive marketing effort these companies have undertaken to appeal to a new and unique class of leisure travelers.

To see our full position, click here.  

Short Term Rental Tool Kit - The following resources will help our members to educate themselves about how to get involved and make regulatory and code enforcement changes at the local level. Credit to the Pennsylvania Bed and Breakfast Association (PABBI), for sharing what they compiled, along with the addition of information gathered by AIHP and supplied by other states and municipalities.

Overview Memo
AIHP's Policy Statement
Talking Points
Sample Letter
Sample Article
Educational Rack Card
 Are You in Compliance with Local & State Requirements?
PowerPoint Presentation
Short-Term Rentals Discussion 
Legislative Initiatives in the Other States
What we are seeing around the Country!