Doing the right thing

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Iâ€â„¢m inundated weekly with press releases breathlessly touting the latest hotel room bells and whistles. From bedside MP3 players and flatscreen televisions, to creamy Belgium chocolates and cashmere bed throws, Iâ€â„¢ve seen it all. But one announcement in particular caught my eye the other day—and itâ€â„¢s not particularly sexy. Microtel Inns & Suites has introduced informational pamphlets, "Accessible Fitness" bags and Upper Body Ergometers for guests with special needs.

These new features are just the latest development in a company-wide initiative to go the extra mile for the disabled guest. For instance, Microtel offers three ADA-room designs throughout the chain and employees are trained in disability etiquette. Microtel claims to be the only budget hotel chain to implement the training program known as Opening Doors systemwide. Plus, the chain annually participates in the World Congress & Exposition on Disabilities and is proactively involved in several other initiatives that target the needs of travelers with disabilities.

This issue is very close to the heart of Roy E. Flora, executive vice president, franchise operations. I witnessed this at a US Franchise Systems convention two years ago.

Seated at lunch next to Roy, I was surprised when, instead of touting his companyâ€â„¢s latest development figures or RevPAR numbers, he spoke with pride and conviction about measures he and his team had developed to better serve travelers with disabilities.

Reservations among travelers with disabilities at Microtel hotels around the nation continue to grown, reports the company. Last year, net revenues for ADA room nights increased by 42 percent over 2004. Internet hotel bookings for ADA rooms also increased significantly, it says. Clearly, serving this important market is not only the right thing to do, itâ€â„¢s the smart thing to do.

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