Hospitality businesses that fail to incorporate website accessibility now open their brand up to serious risks.
Website accessibility contends that any site on the internet can be accessed by all people, including by those with visual, hearing, motor skills and cognitive impairments. For hospitality businesses, this means ensuring that your entire digital presence, including your online content, brand story and offerings, can be consumed and interacted with by those with disabilities.
Times are quickly changing and digital inclusion has become an important topic as of late. However, many owners still don’t fully understand the business consequences that come with a lack of website accessibility. In fact, choosing to ignore accessibility is now considered an irresponsible business decision—and it actually opens up your company to serious risks.
Let’s break down four major business risks that come with a lack of website accessibility.
Opening Up Discrimination Lawsuits and Legal Risk
Most established brick and mortar companies have a thorough understanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how it impacts their day-to-day operations in providing physical access to their business (think wheelchair ramps). As we shift to the digital age, however, many companies overlook the needs of those with conditions that impact their ability to interact online.
What many people don’t know is that the ADA, which is a civil rights law, now applies to all public-facing websites. As such, sites must be coded and designed to meet specific guidelines—or your business is considered to be denying equal access to the more than 1 billion people worldwide with a disability. Brands who fail to comply are vulnerable to discrimination lawsuits, stiff penalties and hefty legal fees.
What’s more is that these lawsuits are rapidly increasing each year as our world becomes more digitized. In 2019, there were 11,053 web accessibility lawsuits filed in federal U.S. court, having doubled from the 4,789 of the same lawsuits filed in just 2015.
The good news? These lawsuits are almost completely preventable when website accessibility is done by accredited experts who understand the official ADA compliance guidelines. Patchwork fixes and shortcuts often come back to bite. Remember, it’s a lot better to be preventative than to deal with the headaches and consequences when it’s already too late. The peace of mind is priceless.
Delivering a Poor Guest Experience
Businesses within the hospitality industry know—all of your potential customers should be taken care of and given the exceptional service they deserve. Today, however, the guest experience begins far before they actually step foot in your establishment. It begins when they interact with your brand online.
First impressions matter. And your business is facing an uphill battle from the start if your website is delivering a poor experience for a significant portion of all potential customers. The guest experience involves several factors that can make or a loyal customer for life—and it now extends online.
Before a customer can book a reservation, make a purchase, or even read about your offerings, they need to be able to access your website. This involves subtle tweaks like including closed-captioning subtitles on videos for those with hearing impairments, as well as larger ones like ensuring the text is compatible with technologies like braille terminals, screen readers and voice recognition software.
Losing Potential Customers
Did you know that 71% of websites are unusable by those with disabilities? And that around 1 in 4 visitors click away from your website due to a lack of accessibility?
You’re not only failing a social responsibility with a lack of website accessibility—but a financial one as well. A poorly designed website automatically excludes a massive chunk of prospective customers from your brand and offerings—dramatically affecting the bottom line of hospitality businesses.
Having an accessible website opens the door to millions of new potential customers who are currently unable to interact with your brand due to digital barriers in communication. It’s hard to convert web traffic into customers when they can’t even interact with your business in the first place.
Companies who frustrate their potential leads won’t hear back from them. They will leave your website and head to your competition.—a missed opportunity to turn them into a lifelong customer. On the other hand, businesses who have accessible websites will easily gain more customers and increase revenue.
Brand Reputation Damage
Many hospitality businesses are increasingly optimizing their websites for accessibility—and those who don’t risk falling behind. It’s something worth broadcasting and showcases a positive brand image that’s inclusive, attentive to all clients, and in line with the times.
Similar to topics like diversity and sustainability, a lack of web accessibility can greatly damage your reputation among existing and potential customers. This is especially true within the hospitality industry, which prides itself on creating an inclusive environment for all guests.
Remember, these voices and social demands to create a more inclusive world are only amplifying. Around 25% of the current population has a disability, and an aging demographic in the U.S. means more and more of your web traffic will have some sort of physical limitation (think: trembling hands, low vision, short term memory loss.). Companies that ignore the needs of these customers are only putting their own brand reputation at risk.
Making Website Accessibility a Priority
Having an accessible website is no longer a “nice to have” option. It’s a business necessity. Otherwise, you open up your business to many preventable risks and headaches.
Accessible websites need to be built according to specific guidelines by certified technicians. Or your current site needs to be remediated by those who are accredited experts. At Access Design Studio, we’re the world’s leading expert in accessible websites for the hospitality industry.
Book A Complimentary Accessibility Review
Book a complimentary ADA compliance website review to see how your site stacks up to accessibility standards.