The aim was for Scandic to attract more guests, to show that everyone’s money was of equal value.
I contracted a rheumatic disease in 1999 which put me on sick leave for a couple of years. In 2002 I was planning to travel, but my illness made walking difficult. So I began studying the websites of various hotel chains. I couldn’t find any information on accessibility to help guests with special needs. Then I came up with the idea of presenting this to Scandic’s management team and showing how Scandic could attract more guests to its hotels by starting to work on accessibility issues.
We began by hiring three wheelchairs for the office. Then all the team members got to spend two hours in a wheelchair to experience life from that perspective. We had the wheelchairs going around head office for three months. Being in a wheelchair is just one of many disabilities, but it’s a great way to get people talking about the issues. The team members quickly started noticing the shortcomings of existing solutions.
We began by drawing up our own standard and training our team members. The Accessibility Standard now comprises 135 points, 90 of which are compulsory for all the hotels. Whenever we refurbish or take over a new hotel, all 135 points are applied to that property. We have a training programme that is conducted at all the hotels, and when we open a new hotel or take over an existing one we also take the training to them, so the team members can learn all about different disabilities and our standard.
Here you can read our 135 point accessibility standard. It has been drawn up by carefully following the route taken by guests from the car park on through the whole hotel. We have also talked to disability organisations and guests with physical disabilities and received lots of ideas from our own keen staff. Although we rent our hotels rather than owning them, there is a lot that we can do. 90 of the 135 points are compulsory for all hotels. All 135 of the points need to be applied as we renovate or build new hotels. The standard applies in all nine of the countries in which Scandic is represented. Of course we also have to comply with the legislation in the country concerned. This means that if the legislation in the country in question is stricter on any particular point, that takes precedence. In the cases where our standard is higher than the legislation, of course our standard applies.