(How hospitality websites are impacted by the Americans with Disabilities Act)
by Bill Mitchell, President and Founder, RezStream
As of March 15, 2012, all third party online reservation systems (website booking engines, OTA websites, etc.) must be ADA accessible. Companies that provide these reservation systems must be ADA certified. All hotel-supplied content, within these third party reservation systems, must also be updated. New requirements state that hotel information about ADA rooms, amenities, property information, and photos should be current and accurate.
Hospitality businesses, with six rooms or more, must make their websites ADA accessible. These businesses often have no idea these new ADA regulations even apply to them. Actually, in 2010, the Justice Department declared that all websites must be ADA accessible. It is more important than ever to adhere to the new ADA guidelines for your business.
Remember that older people, or people with disabilities, account for 57% of all Internet users. By making your website ADA accessible, you open your doors to more customers. Beyond that benefit, you are also protecting yourself against potentially, expensive lawsuits.
RezStream’s TOP 10 ADA Internet accessibly tips:
- Make sure all ADA room descriptions and property features are updated on your website. ADA room sizes, bathroom features, bed descriptions, etc. should be detailed and provide measurements. Branded hotels should adopt and post an ADA policy on their websites.
- Make sure your current online reservation provider is ADA certified.
- Your mobile website and mobile booking engine must be ADA accessible.
- Have your booking engine provider explain how to update ADA content and property photos on your online reservation system. All graphics/images within your website’s online booking engine, and third party reservation sites (Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking.com, etc.), must contain Alternative (Alt Tag) descriptions, such as “Queen Room” or similar descriptions.
- Only work with website design companies that have accredited ADA certification specialists on staff. Websites must be manually inspected and certified. Online tools only catch 25% of ADA deficiencies.
- Consider getting a new CMS website that is ADA compliant. It is less expensive to make a new website ADA accessible than it is to retrofit older websites.
- If you buy a new website, have the scope of the ADA work put into your new design contract.
- Once your website is ADA accessible, learn how to maintain it.
- Don’t panic. Most ADA experts can look at 10-15 pages of your website to see if anything is wrong. A reputable ADA agency can guide you through the correction process with the least amount of cost.
- Begin the process today. Many ADA legal experts recommend contracting with someone ASAP. If a complaint is filed while you are undergoing ADA remediation, there is a strong chance that your legal liability will be lessened.
Conclusion:This article covers the basics behind ADA complaint websites. Find more detailed information at www.ada.gov. Many websites on the Internet are not ADA compliant, but be forewarned. The consequences of not becoming ADA compliant can be expensive! To meet the necessary ADA standards, select a website design and consulting firm that specializes in ADA compliant websites and online reservation systems. As always, RezStream can assist lodging properties of all sizes with ADA consulting and website design services.
About the Author: Bill Mitchell is President and Founder of RezStream, a company dedicated to hospitality solutions. Bill has over 30 years experience in the hospitality industry with extensive knowledge in consulting, sales, support, website design and Internet marketing.RezStream sells reservation software, online reservation booking engine services, Global Distribution System services, custom website designs, Internet marketing services, and a full line of ADA compliance consulting services. Call 866-360-8210 or visit www.rezstream.com for more information.