By Elliot Mest and WAKEUP CALL
Changes in training are some of the most crucial to operating with the new ADA standards in place. Kevin Buchanan, GM of the Hilton Garden Inn Providence, Warwick R.I., recommends continuous training for employees on a quarterly basis, rather than the recommended annual training session. He said this is the most effective method, even in a hotel with low turnover. One specific aspect of training frequently is addressed during these quarterly sessions.
Buchanan cited an example of training employees to recognize service animals following updated guidelines. “With the new modifications [to the ADA], employees can no longer ask for paperwork on animals designated as service animals,” Buchanan said. “Before, the animal would be wearing an identifier, but now they don’t, and we don’t have to check their credentials. As a hotel that doesn’t allow pets, we have to constantly train for that.”
Buchanan also recommends employees frequently train in the operation of equipment for hearing-impaired guests, and make themselves familiar with it prior to a hearing-impaired guest’s arrival.
Still, training can be difficult when requirements are unclear. Minh Vu, partner at Seyfarth Shaw Attorneys, pointed out some aspects of the ADA that were unclear, one of which pertains to properties with mechanical access garages, which are not specifically exempted from accessible parking requirements at this time. Changes in accessible parking in the 2010 ADA standards have required accessible parking spaces for areas such as valet parking facilities, and while many types of garages are exempt from accessibility requirements, mechanical access garages are not.
“There is confusion over what is or is not exempt,” Vu said. “As we are starting to apply the updated 2010 standards to hotels it became clear that there are some errors and omissions.”
To compensate, a hotel’s best bet is to train for all possible scenarios, focusing on those that affect its guest profile and property profile the most, the experts said.