Addressing accessibility and inclusion in hospitality

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We recently spoke to Dan Evans, Operations Manager at The Inn Collection Group to find out what they are doing to create change across the hospitality and entertainment industry regarding diversity and inclusion.

Introduce yourself and your company

I’m Dan Evans and I’m an operations manager at The Inn Collection Group, a dynamic and fast-growing pubco based in the North East of England. We have pubs with rooms in pretty outstanding locations in Northumberland, County Durham, and Durham city itself as well as in the Lake District and Yorkshire. All our inns deliver our trusted eat-drink, sleep-and-explore model, serving cracking British pub fare, a great range of drinks in a lovely environment, with overnight service accommodation too. Construction is underway on our first Wearside venue, The Seaburn Inn on the seafront in Sunderland, which is expected to open in winter 2020.

What is your D&I mission for 2020 and beyond?

Diversity and Inclusivity is a company-wide mission across The Inn Collection Group throughout the ranks. The Inn Collection Group is about being inclusive and welcoming to everyone. We embrace families, people with additional accessibility needs, overseas visitors, older people, dog owners, and multi-generational groups. This includes our own staff, creating inclusive guest experiences, and supporting diversity initiatives. It’s what sets us aside from competitors as a brand that people know and trust Our customers stay loyal to us and recommend us because of our values.

Can you share some D&I best practice examples?

From a team perspective, we continually look to invest in our employees, so they are not only upskilled and trained but so they share our ethos and philosophy in D&I and feel valued as part of our Inn Collection Group family. It’s one of the reasons why we are officially The Best Pub Employer in the UK, after winning the category at the industry’s Publican Awards 2019. And that begins at the very first point of contact, whether it’s someone actually stepping through our doors, or clicking on our website. We launched our Inspiration Academy which includes work-based learning, but also team building and motivational training days, ranging from speakers such as a world-class Olympic swimmer to go-karting and brewery visits.

We work closely with partners such as Newcastle Airport’s inbound tourism campaign Visit North East England, Visit Great Britain, and Visit England and are involved in projects such as Explorer’s Road to penetrate international markets including Dubai, America, and Germany. We have invested in translation facilities on our website, such as the Recite Me software that allows people browsing our website to select to view our site in their own language.

Comments regarding being accessible across your online landscape?

We are currently investing in a new website that will house all of our expanding portfolio of inns, making it easier for people to navigate our products and find out more about our brand. D& I begins at the first point of contact for us, whether that’s someone stepping through our doors, or landing on our website. We need to ensure they feel welcomed and inclusive. The Recite Me software not only makes our website content accessible but useable for everyone, whether they are visually impaired, neurodiverse, speak English as a second language, or are of an older age. It results in a better online experience for potential customers, translating into increased sales and bookings.

Can you share an example of D&I success?

As a company, we punch above our weight when it comes to D&I. We are proud to have won numerous awards, in which our commitment to D&I plays an important part, not just because it is legislation, but because we genuinely want to open up our business to a wider audience. We recently hosted a FAM trip (familiarization trip) by German travel operators who have positive feedback about the Recite Me accessibility toolbar and translation service. We have a partnership with older people’s charity Abbeyfield and The Pub is a Hub that sees us open up our inns to isolated older people living alone for events and lunches. Many of the people who come along are internet savvy, but they need help being able to see their screens – we’ve had great feedback about the usability of our website, which Recite Me allows.

Concluding company message

Putting it simply, we aim to be the best we can be by applying continuous best practices across all our operations. For us, it’s not just about being legally compliant when it comes to D&I, it’s about really embedding it into our operations and mission statement so people choose to eat, drink, sleep and explore with us, as well as choose us to work for.

Furthermore, if you’re interested in improving your websites accessibility, then be sure to try out our free WCAG compliant accessibility checker.

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