What this means is that the group has gone beyond long-standard hospitality features such as accessible car parks and ramps to include a comprehensive assortment of features that make each hotel fully available to the 24% of New Zealanders who at any given time will identify as having an accessibility issue – and the 20% of tourists who need some form of assistance to manage their own disability. Issues can range from the permanent, such as sight and hearing impairment and paralysis, to the temporary, such as people with infants and toddlers and those recovering from injury.
The social enterprise Be. Institute, which runs the nationwide Be. Welcome assessment programme, has assessed and rated Sudima Auckland Airport in five categories for access, and given the hotel an overall rating of Silver (71%). The other New Zealand properties, in Hamilton, Rotorua and Christchurch, all have Bronze accreditation.
Sudima Hotel Group’s goal is to ensure all guests can enjoy every aspect of each hotel’s facilities regardless of their individual needs. To that end, it has achieved its accessible status by including:
Sudima Hotel Group’s director of operations Les Morgan says the group’s new status sets a benchmark for the industry in the same way that its carboNZero certification has done. “Tourism is one of the country’s biggest industries, and domestic travel for business and pleasure are also major revenue drivers for hotel operators, so in order to maintain prominence and success you must be in touch with what consumers are looking for – what your customers need and how you respond to the social changes that are constantly occurring.
“We’re proud of our unprecedented accessibility status, and will use it not only to improve our service, which we always strive to do, but examine how our business operates. We will continue to develop our accessible services, which will require further investment on our part and more education of our team members as to the challenges our guests face.
“There is, of course, no better organisation than Be. Accessible to work with towards these goals. An example of the extent of Be.’s service is our Christchurch hotel rebuild, on which Be. collaborated in the early planning stages with our branding, design and architectural consultants to ensure accessible clients’ needs would be met.”
Be. Institute founder and CEO Minnie Baragwanath says, “It is thrilling to see that Sudima has made an authentic commitment by being the first hotel chain in New Zealand to submit all properties for assessment through the Be. Welcome programme.
“The Sudima Hotel Group is incredibly progressive in its thinking and approach to service. We cannot commend them highly enough and look forward to a relationship that will see the hotels move from Bronze through to Gold and Platinum rating. This is a true partnership that is leading social change in the New Zealand tourism and travel sector.”