A conversation with Kerry WIlliams, Founder of Accessible Accommodation

Kerry speaks to Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine about the booming Accessible Tourism Sector at their Annual Conference.

Accessible tourism is about giving people with disabilities the same joy of travel and experiences that someone without a disability has, whether it be a neurological or a physical disability. Everyone should be able to have a break.

And, apart from that, it actually makes good business sense.


How It Started

I'm Kerry Williams. I am the Founder of two websites, Accessible Accommodation and Accessible Experiences. The reason I started the business was because of my mum. On multiple travel trips, we always had to find accommodation in particular, that was accessible, and we had enormous difficulty with it.

The catalyst was in Tasmania, where I thought I'd asked all the right questions about Mum being able to get in the shower and we got there only to find that the shower was not accessible.

And I thought that this is not good enough. It has to change. So, I set about doing something about it.

Why Should Businesses Prioritise Accessibility?

19 per cent of Australians live with a disability and 25 per cent of Australians are retirees. As they age, their need for accessibility grows. So, before you know it, you've got almost half the Australian population needing some form of accessibility at some time in their lives.

Also, if a family member or a group member travelling has a disability, the primary decision will be finding their accommodation first. So, by harnessing accessible tourism, you're not only helping people with disabilities have a great stay, but you're also attracting a larger audience of groups and family members.

It can be surprisingly simple to do, and you don't need to do it all at once. Even if you just start, for example, ensure you have ramps where there are steps. A very small step is a mountain to a person in a wheelchair.

And so, if you even consider those points on how to access the building you are already considering people with disabilities.

Accessibility can be Beautiful Too.

In this conversation with Kerry WIlliams, she explains that "My mantra is that accessibility can be beautiful AND accessible". There are many ways to achieve this.

Nowadays there are grab rails for example in beautiful, brushed copper, gold or black. You can make it really stunning and it does not need to remind a guest that they are in a hospital environment.

People with disabilities spend a disproportionately higher number of time in hospitals than people without. The last thing they want to feel is like they are in a sterile hospital environment.

Just Start Somewhere

For a business that wants to start, I have a couple of tips.

The first is that A person with a disability simply wants Accurate information. So that they can determine whether a place or venue suits their mobility needs.

The second thing I discovered is that businesses are often too fearful that they're not accessible, or even promote themselves on their websites as accessible. For fear, they are not good enough and for fear, they may get a bad review. It's often a misperception.

When I have a look at their premises, I'm surprised that in most cases they can, and only minor modifications are needed.

As a business, you have the potential to bring a joyful travel experience to someone with a disability, as well as harness the revenue this booming travel sector brings.