St Albans developer launches website to score hotels according to their disabled accessibility
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Hoteliers are being urged to consider the challenges faced by disabled visitors after a St Albans man launched a TripAdvisor-style website to review accessibility.
Dan Humphrey, 32, was prompted to initiate the service after seeing his father, a paraplegic, facing unnecessary hurdles while on holiday, including at hotels claiming to cater for people with disabilities.
His 65-year-old father, Alan, was one of the highest qualified ski instructors in the country.
But he suffered a spinal cord injury in 2005 after he fell about 40 feet, “bouncing a couple of times” on his way to the ground at an outdoor centre, while setting up ropes.
Dan said: “The home is set up for everything he needs as it has been adapted, but when you go away, it’s a hassle.
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“Quite often when we stay somewhere, they say they are accessible but sometimes you have to ask people to move out of the way in a restaurant to get through to a table or to reach your room – which in itself is usually fine – you may have to go through the kitchen to get to it.
“Over the years we have faced many challenges together; one hotel in Austria had a swimming pool with steps.”
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Dan said that when on holiday or overnight stays “we always struggle to find an appropriate hotel that meets his needs, with many suggesting they do but in reality have missed the mark.
“This has caused a number of issues for us and a lot of frustration for dad. It was this frustration that made me want to make a difference, not just for dad, but for all those who go through the same struggles. Searching all the relevant websites, I could not find anything that did what we needed, so I have decided to make this myself.”
Dan has thus created TripAble, a website which allows users to search for hotels based on their specific accessibility needs.
He said: “Currently there is no main information source, no website/app that allows hotel users to rate or grade a hotel on its accessibility. So this is what I set out to create in TripAble.org.”
With the help of Solid State Group, a digital agency that develops websites, web applications and social networks, Dan has set up a simple review system that allows people to rate a hotel’s accessibility in six areas including hotel access, room usability and toilet facilities.
He said: “This is overlaid over a hotel search and booking system that gives access to most hotels in the world - simply put, think TripAdvisor for the physically disabled.
“We are expecting to be up and running with TripAble.org next week.”
However, as all the website’s information is ‘crowdsourced’, Dan is urging people with mobility issues to enter reviews on as many hotels they have visited as possible, “then it becomes a tool to guide us and others on future trips, as well as show hoteliers what good looks like and that we are worth thinking about”.
Dan said that while the likes of Holiday Inn “has made a lot of effort in having accessible rooms in newer hotels, you are in a very standard hotel, and you don’t get any variation”.
In advance of the site’s launch Dan has entered the Virgin Media Business competition in the start-up category, for its advertising, financial and mentoring support, to help boost the project while “helping as many people as possible”.
He hopes to eventually offer reviews of the accessibility of half a million hotels.
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