JIAHR Issue 9 - A Regional Analysis Concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act: Lodging Operator Level of Compliance

December 1996 Issue 9 ISSN 1052-6099

Editor: Eliza C. Tse, Ph.D.
Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

JIAHR publishes refereed papers on all aspects of ity and tourism research. When judged of sufficient quality, individual papers are sent electronically as a single issue of the Journal to members of the Academy of Hospiity Research and to subscribing individuals and libraries. The material is copyrighted. JIAHR is indexed/abstracted in "Lodging and Restaurant Index" and "Leisure, Recreation, and Tourism Abstracts."

A Regional Analysis Concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act: Lodging Operator Level of Compliance
by Randall S. Upchurch and JunWon Seo


Development of the Research Process
Compliance Findings and Discussion
What Factors Prevented Compliance?
Limitations of the Study
Implications: Barriers in Non-Compliance

Editorial Board
Archival Information
JIAHR Is Now Free of Charge
Instructions to Authors
Call for Reviewers


The focus of this study centered on measuring lodging opeator compliance in regard to the American with Disabilities Act. The intnent was to meaure lodging operators's (a) current level of physical compliance with the American with Disabilities Act, (b) plans in meeting or exceeding ADA requirements, and (c) perceived barriers leading to non-compliance. The participants in this study were selected from a list of hotels and motels provided by the Minnesota Office of Tourism that represented the nine county metropolitan area of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The number of peropertises in this cluster represented full service, limited service, and economy properties that varierd from 25 to 583 guest rooms per property, the presence of a restaurant, and meeting room facilities. The findings of this study suggested that (a) 100% compliance has not been achieved in certain areas, (b) vagueness of the legislation is not necesssarily a barrier in compliance, and (c) financial impacts resulting from compliance are a main barrier leading to non-compliance. Therefore, the implications of this study are that: (a) assistance is needed in ensuring that compliance in the various catergories are met, otherwise, the disabled traveler's needs will not be totally met, and (b) that lodging operators need to assume their civic responsibilites for meeting the needs of the disabled traveler's needs. Key words: American with Disabilities Act, Lodging, Compliance, Disabled traveler.


On July 26, 1990, the United States Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act ( ADA ). The ADA legislation is designed to protect an individual's civil rights by promoting equal opportunity and equality of access for travelers with special needs. Specifically, the ADA protects the civil rights of travelers with disabilities to equal access to good and services offered by public service providers.

What is meant by public accommodation? The wording in Title 3 of the ADA specifies that a public accommodation is a private entity that owns, operates, leases, or leases to, a place of public accommodation (National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, 1992). For the hospitality service industry this includes operations, such as restaurants, hotels, motels, and resorts. In addition, the ADA legislation (Title 3) clearly established a date and conditions of compliance. For instance, all businesses serving the public must be accessible after January 26, 1992; also, any lodging operations constructed after January 1992 must be "fully" accessible to all traveling guests ( Troy, 1993 ; National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, 1992).

There is no doubt that the ADA legislation has directly affected the lodging sector. Since the ADA's enactment, the responses by lodging operators have been generally negative to the ADA legislation. Negative responses were largely due to the financial burden that was being "forced" upon the lodging operators resulting in operational hardships. Financial hardships occur when lodging operators alter existing properties to become "equally" or "fully" accessible for all guests. According to the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (1992), lodging operators' concern over financial hardship is unfounded, because the law states that not all features must be altered to achieve ready accessibility. For instance, only parking spaces and drinking fountains must be made accessible for a facility to be readily accessible (National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research, 1992). Still, the costs associated with altering existing facilities can be costly.

Therefore, the financial stability and impact upon the operation are taken into consideration when requiring an operation to become accessible. Any alteration that presents a financial hardship upon an operation is taken into consideration; but, this does not exempt an operation from achieving a specified level of compliance. The two fundamental principles behind the ADA legislation are (a) that economic gains will result from the purchasing power of additional disabled traveling consumers, and (b) the disabled traveler's life will be enriched because of an increased productive life (National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, 1992; Torres, F. 1994 ). It is unfortunate that the federal government had to enact legislation to address the inequality by public service providers; yet, without such intervention, it is unlikely that the needs of the disabled traveler would have occurred in a timely fashion. It is without question that governmental intervention has served as a strong catalyst for the reduction or removal of specified barriers ( Shaw, 1994 ).

In summary, in American society the concept of equality is a fundamental civil right, and it is this principle that American society has applauded throughout history. The ADA extends the fundamental civic rights principles by mandating equality of access from public accommodation providers. However, the wording in the ADA legislation indicates that the provision of reasonable accommodations should not impose a financial burden or hardship upon public accommodation operators.

Purpose of Study . The need for this study is based on an individual's civil right for equal access to services from public service providers. The estimated 43 million disabled consumers that travel throughout the United States of America are entitled to equal opportunity and access of goods and services as provided by private operators that offer public accommodations ( Gall, 1993 ). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to (a) measure lodging operator level of compliance with the ADA legislation, (b) measure future intentions to provide additional products or services that would meet or exceed ADA rules and regulations, and (c) measure existing barriers in compliance.


A sample of lodging properties was chosen in the metropolitan area of Minneapolis, Minnesota. This group was basically a convenience sample due to the proximity of the Minneapolis metropolitan area to the researchers' institution. Also, the city of Minneapolis and surrounding suburban areas are reflective of other large metropolitan cities in the United States in terms of the presence of full service, limited service, and economy corporate and franchise operations. The actual properties chosen were randomly selected from 203 full service, limited service, and economy lodging operations, encompassing a nine county area. The list identifying the hotels and motels was provided by the Minnesota Office of Tourism.

Item Construction. The items contained in the questionnaire were developed from specific requirements set forth in the ADA legislation. For this study, the compliance questions were extracted from the ADA handbook and the Minnesota Building Access Survey. Therefore, each item on the questionnaire was based on specific compliance requirements contained in those documents. This process ensured that the items listed on the questionnaire had content validity.

The questionnaire was separated into two major sections. The first section asked the respondent to answer "Yes" or "No" to physical or structural categories. Specifically, the operator was asked to indicate whether their operation was in compliance with very specific components relating to guest rooms, guest bathrooms, restaurants, meeting rooms, elevators, entrances and doors, walkways, and parking spaces. The second part of the questionnaire focused on items that were selected to determine the operator's intentions in (a) providing additional products or services that would meet or exceed ADA rules and regulations, and (b) measuring perceived barriers to compliance. The respondents were asked to rate each question on a scale from 1 = Strongly Disagree to 5 = Strongly Agree.

Data Analysis. There were two statistical procedures used to analyze the data contained in the questionnaire. First, in an effort to cross analyze the data, the respondents were asked to indicate whether their property was classified as a (a) hotel or motel, (b) length of time in business, and year of rehabilitation. The analysis of variance procedure was then utilized to test for differences between groups on the variables of property classification, year of rehabilitation, and length of time in business. Second, the Chi-square was utilized to test for significant differences on the categorical questions contained in the questionnaire. The level of significance used for the analysis of variance and the chi-square was set at the .05 level.

Questionnaire Development. The compliance questionnaire was mailed to property managers during June of 1994, with a request to return the completed questionnaire by July 11, 1994. During this period 34 percent of the properties returned completed questionnaires. In the following two weeks, the non-respondents received a postcard follow-up. This process resulted in an additional 16 percent of the sample returning completed questionnaires. Further efforts were made by contacting non-respondents via the telephone. This procedure gained the participation of an additional 6 percent of the lodging operators, which brought the cumulative response rate to 56 percent.


To arrive at an overall profile of compliance, the lodging operators were asked to answer structured compliance questions. The answers to these questions resulted in a profile that represented the current level of compliance and barriers preventing compliance. The major findings covered (a) modification efforts since the institution of the ADA, (b) general compliance by the categories of general, guest rooms, restaurant, and meeting rooms, (c) perceived impact of the disabled traveler market on the financial status of the lodging operation, (d) intentions to add products or services that would meet the needs of the disabled traveler, (e) perception of the ADA's vagueness and resultant impact on compliance, and (f) perception of financial impact on compliance.

Modification Efforts

Fifty percent of the lodging operators stated that they had modified their property within the last two years to comply with the law, 17.6 percent within the last two to three years, 5.9 percent within the last three to four years, 2.9 percent within four to five years, 11.8 percent greater than six years, and the remaining 11.8% did not report any modifications. For the disabled traveling public, this is perhaps a good sign that 67.6 percent of the reporting properties stated that they had undergone modification within the last three years to be in compliance. This is not an unusual finding since January 26, 1992, was the initial date for compliance. This question alone could not serve as a gauge in measuring lodging operator level of compliance. Therefore, the survey contained very specific questions relating to the property's entry and access, registration area, guest rooms, meeting rooms, restaurant, and public areas. The responses to the questions served as an indicator for the level of compliance for the reporting properties.

General Compliance by Category

The composition of the sample was 55.9 percent hotels and 44.1 percent motel operations, which indicated a closely balanced sample by major lodging operation category. The following figures represent the compliance efforts of the hotel and motel operators as a group. This was done to give insight into the overall level of compliance for this regional area.

Entry way and parking. The results for entry access and accessible parking factors show that these lodging operators are performing at a high rate of compliance. However, the rates of compliance for meeting the minimum number of parking spaces, parking width criteria, parking near entry ways, visible handicapped parking symbols, ramp access, and non-slip entry surfaces did not surpass the 92 percent level of total compliance, as shown in Table 1. Overall, these results showed that access to these lodging operations was in tune with the needs of the disabled traveler.

Table 1
Entry Way and Parking Factors
Entry Way and Parking Compliance Percent
Minimum number of parking spaces 91.8
Handicap parking near entry ways 91.2
Parking meets width criteria 91.2
Handicap symbol is visibly displayed 88.2
Entry surface has ramp access 79.4
Entry surfaces are non-slip 58.8

Guest rooms -- general use. Consumer convenience resulting from compliance in the guest rooms is a major variable in selecting a lodging establishment for the disabled traveler. Therefore, the lodging operators were asked to respond to these ADA-requirements: lever-handle hardware, and entry door width; outward-opening bathroom door; adequate turning space in the bathroom/guest room; toilet and bath/shower area grab bars; appropriate height for light switches and thermostats; and correct mounting of mirrors. Again, the overall results showed that these lodging operators were generally in compliance (Table 2). Still, the lodging operators need to make improvements in all these categories; especially, in the use of lever handle hardware, bath doors that open outward, adequate turning space provisions, the use of grab bars, the mounting of switches, thermostats, and mirrors. For the disabled traveler, non-compliance in any of these categories can be quite frustrating.

Table 2
Guest Rooms - General Use
Guest Rooms Compliance Percent
Entry door width meets standard criteria (32") 97.1
Switches and thermostats mounted within reach (36-40") 91.1
Bath area has adequate turning space for wheelchair 88.2
Bath door opens outward 79.4
Doors have lever hardware 76.5
Mirror is mounted correctly (40") 76.5
TDD devices are provided 67.6
Closed caption television is provided 61.8
Strobe alarm is provided 58.8

Registration, elevator, restaurant, and meeting room areas. The front desk registration area is typically the first form of contact for an individual entering a hotel. The fact that the front desk serves a pivotal role for the front of the house and the back of the house stresses the importance of making a positive "first" impression upon the guest. Therefore, it was disconcerting to find that only 26.5 percent of the reporting hotels and motels expressed that their front desks were accessible for wheelchair registration. Considering these results, the researchers had to assume that an alternate method/place of registration was offered to the disabled traveler in light of this obvious shortcoming.

Sixty-nine percent of the reporting hotels and motels stated that the audible signal in their elevators was satisfactory for the hearing impaired; and eighty-four percent reported that Braille call buttons existed in their elevators (Table 3). Certainly, these results indicated that not all lodging operators were equal in compliance. Again, these results indicated that the disabled traveler should exercise sound judgment when selecting their lodging accommodation.

Table 3
Registration and Elevators
Registration and elevators Compliance Percent
Call buttons are in Braille 84.6
Elevator offers audible sound for the hearing impaired 69.2
Registration desk is wheelchair accessible 26.5

The category concerning meeting room compliance was reflective only of the hotels and motels that provided such facilities. The results showed that the use of assistive hearing devices in the meeting rooms and platform access for speakers, performers, and others was lacking. Even though these were the only categories reviewed concerning meeting room compliance, the results indicated that compliance in meeting room services is worthy of attention by the lodging operator, as shown in Table 4.

Table 4
Meeting Rooms
Meeting Rooms Compliance Percent
Assistive listening devices are provided 38.5
Platform for the stage is wheelchair accessible 26.9

As shown in Table 5, the questions centered on restaurant compliance were limited in focus; however, 94 percent of the lodging operators felt that their restaurant was accessible or had ramp access (50 percent), and 100 percent of the respondents indicated that their dining area was wheelchair accessible. These findings reflected a positive philosophy from lodging operators to meet the disabled traveler's needs. At least for these limited variables, lodging operators were operating at a high level of compliance.

Table 5
Restaurant Compliance
Restaurant Compliance Compliance Percent
Seating area provides adequate turning space for wheelchairs 100.0
Entry way is a flat surface 94.4
Entry ramp is 36" wide 50.0


After reviewing the previous figures, the question remains as to why lodging operators are not in complete compliance. Apparently, there are barriers that are limiting compliance efforts. According to previous research, two of the most commonly reported barriers preventing an operation from complying are (a) the vagueness of the ADA legislation, and (b) the financial hardship that an operation must assume when building or altering an existing property ( Delmont, 1993 ).

Vagueness of the Law

To gain further insight into the present level of compliance and future intentions in compliance with ADA, lodging operators answered questions scaled from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree. When asked if "vagueness of the ADA legislation was a main barrier in complying with the law," 23.5 percent of the respondents agreed with this statement, 2.9 percent strongly agreed, 38.2 percent were neutral, 23.5 percent disagreed, and 8.8 percent strongly disagreed. So, 70.5 percent of the respondents were either neutral or disagreed with this statement, which is in contrast to a previous study ( Delmont, 1993 ). At least for this group of respondents, non-compliance did not reflect the vagueness touted by reports covering the public service industry. This study did not attempt to discern why vagueness was no longer a major concern as indicated by Delmont in 1993. Perhaps the lodging operators in this sample reflected an enlightened group of operators that have "learned by doing" since the initial mandatory compliance date of July 26, 1992. Perhaps they received assistance from external agencies. According to the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation agency, there are countless governmental agencies and consulting agencies that exist in the various states to help clarify the terms and conditions of the ADA legislation. At least in Minnesota, the government appears to be actively involved in providing the Building Access Survey and other support mechanisms to foster compliance.

Differences by lodging type. When the lodging operations were segmented by lodging type, a significant difference was found between the reported means for hotel versus motel operations (p=.0071), as shown in Table 6. The hotel mean was 2.500 and the motel mean was 3.148 on a five-point scale ranging from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly Agree). Even though the means were significantly different, both types of operations were neutral in their belief that the vagueness of the law was a main factor in non-compliance. Again, this finding opposes the Delmont study. Apparently, these operators were able to contend with the stipulations given in the ADA legislation. A logical assumption is that the reduction in the vagueness is a direct reflection of having experienced compliance activities since the law's inception.

Table 6
Operator Barrier Ratings by Classification
Factors Preventing Compliance Classification Mean probability
Vagueness of the wording in the ADA Hotel 2.50 .0071
Motel 3.148
Financial hardship exerted by the ADA Hotel 3.167 .0493
Motel 3.00
Growing impact of the disabled traveling market Hotel 4.058 .0002
Motel 3.296
Plan to add ADA compliant products and services in the future Hotel 3.852 .0381
Motel 2.518

Financial Hardship

If the problem of compliance does not reside in the vagueness of the law, then was there another reason for non-compliance? Shaw ( 1994 ) found that the costs of providing access in public accommodations were a major barrier in complying with the letter of the ADA. In agreement, the findings of this regional study indicated that lodging operators were not disregarding their obligation to comply, but financial matters served as a sufficient barrier in successfully complying with various accessibility issues.

Why were the costs associated with compliance such a concern? A hypothesis by Kohl and Greenlaw ( 1992 ) suggests that simultaneous alteration of physical facilities results in sluggish performance, which directly affects an operation's profit margin. Shaw ( 1994 ) found that 15 percent of recommended changes would cost nothing, 52 percent of the changes would cost from $1 to $500, and 22 percent could cost more than $1,000. Regardless of the figures used, compliance is not an expensive venture. So, if this is the case, then complying seems readily affordable. In fact, efforts taken in complying can result in financial gain for the lodging operation ( O'Dwyer, 1992 ; Salmen, 1992 ). According to O'Dwyer and Salmen, compliance is more of a "boon" than a "bust," because compliance leads to increased profits instead of major financial burdens.

Did this group believe that compliance was an asset instead of a liability? To the question of "Are financial conditions one of the main reasons preventing compliance?" 14.7 percent strongly agreed, 41.2 percent agreed, 14.7 percent were neutral, and the remaining respondents disagreed (29.4 percent). Therefore, approximately 56 percent of the respondents considered finances to be a major barrier in compliance.

Differences by lodging type. When the lodging operations were segmented by lodging type, a significant difference was found between the reported means for hotel versus motel operations (p=.0493). The hotel mean was 3.167 and the motel mean was 3.000 on a five point scale ranging from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly Agree). These findings indicated that the motel operators were neutral on the question of financial impact; whereas, the hotel operators agreed that the financial hardship is an important consideration in complying. This is ironic, because the hotel operations were performing at a higher level of general compliance than motel operations. Possibly, after going through the upgrading of products or services, it has left a tangible impression of the financial hardship. In addition, properties that had undergone rehabilitation within one to three years were significantly different than properties that had renovated within the last four to five years. This is taken to be a strong indication that having undergone renovation brings to the foreground the fact that financial hardship is not an accurate belief.

Growing Market's Impact

Can there be another reason why a lodging operator might be sluggish in the level of compliance? Undoubtedly, lodging operators evaluate target markets by their ability to contribute to the sales of their operation. If a target market exerts a significant impact on the sales of an operation, then the percentage of effort of marketing products and services will agree with the proportion of sales contribution. If this is so, then how you view the importance of a target market will have a strong correlation with your overt actions. Therefore, the questionnaire asked the lodging operator to respond to how they viewed the impact of the disabled traveler market upon their operation.

In response to "do you view the disabled traveler market as a contributing factor for your lodging operation," 8.8 percent of the respondents strongly agreed, 32.4 percent agreed, 17.6 percent were neutral, 32.4 percent disagreed, and 5.9 percent strongly disagreed. In total, 41.2 percent of the lodging operations agreed that the disabled consumer market had an impact on their operation versus 38.3 percent that disagreed with this statement. Apparently, the perception that the disabled consumer market is a significant contributor to the financial status of an operation serves as a strong indicator that these operators are sincere in their efforts to provide products and services that meet the needs, wants, and expectations of the disabled consumer.

Differences by lodging type. When the lodging operations were segmented by lodging type, a significant difference was found between the reported means for hotel versus motel operations (p=.0002). The hotel mean was 4.058 and the motel mean was 3.296 on a five point scale ranging from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly Agree). These findings could be the result of previous compliance efforts, philosophy toward this market, or a higher degree of presence of the disabled traveling consumer in their operations. Whatever the reason, the hotel operations definitely offer stronger support for compliance.

It is interesting to note that when the data was cross analyzed by the length of time in business, the importance of the disabled traveler market upon the financial status increased over time. For instance, the mean ranged from a 2.64 for properties operating only one to three years up to a mean of 3.25 for properties in existence for sixteen or more years, as shown in Table 7. This was an unexpected finding given the overall high mean ratings relating to the financial hardship exerted in compliance. However, these operators did realize the economic value in complying with the legislation.

Table 7
The Economic Impact of the Disabled Traveling Market by Length of Operation
The disabled traveling market is viewed as a growing market
that has economic impact for the operation by length of being in business
Note: 1-3 year category is significantly different from the 4-6 category at .010 level
1-3 year category is significantly different from the 7-10 category at the .02 level
1-3 year category is significantly different from the 11-15 category at the .02 level
1-3 year category is significantly different from the 16 + category at the .0007 level
1-3 years 2.64
4-6 years 2.92
7-10 years 3.02
11-15 years 3.24
16 plus years 3.25

Addition of Products or Services

Another key question was, "Do you view the disabled traveling consumer as a target market that you would dedicate future efforts to improving on existing products or services?" Approximately 9 percent of the respondents strongly agreed, 58.8 percent agreed, 20.6 percent were neutral, and 8.8 percent disagreed with this statement. Generally, 67 percent of the respondents indicated they had strategic plans to add additional products or services to meet the wants and expectations of the disabled consumer market. This indicated that operators realized the lack of complete compliance in meeting disabled travelers' needs. Another reason for this finding could be the fear of litigation. According to Murrmann ( 1992 ), the fear of litigation is a definite reality. Certainly, the fear of fines from governmental agencies, fear of bad public relations by sluggish compliance, potential litigation, or from an honest desire to attract and market to the disabled consumer market was contained in the scope of this study. Still, these general responses indicated a sincere desire to meet or exceed the desires of the disabled consumer.

Differences by lodging type. When the lodging operations were segmented by lodging type, a significant difference was found between the reported means for hotel versus motel operations (p=.0381). The hotel mean was 3.852 and the motel mean was 2.518 on a five point scale ranging from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly Agree). Again, it is beyond the results to draw conclusions about the reasons for these differences; still, the hotel operations included in this sample did appear to evidence a higher level of compliance.

Also, the mean ratings increased with the year that rehabilitation activities were performed. For example, as shown in Table 8, properties that had undergone rehabilitation within one to two years reported a mean of 3.25, and those that had rehabilitated from five or more years ago reported a mean of 4.23. Again, this is an intriguing finding given the overall concern with the financial hardship exerted by compliance. Still, these operators realized the social and economic necessity of including this rather sizeable portion of the traveling public in their market mix.

Table 8
Addition of Products or Services to Meet the Needs of the Disabled Traveler by Year of Rehabilitation
Year of Rehabilitation Mean
Note: 1-2 year & 2-3 year categories
are significantly different from the
5 plus years category at the .0001 level
1-2 years 3.25
2-3 years 3.18
3-4 years 3.50
4-5 years 4.00
5 plus years 4.23

When the data was cross analyzed by the length of being in business the means increased with time. The mean rating ranged from a low of 3.21 for the one to three year category up to a high of 4.24 for properties that had been in operation from eleven to fifteen years (Table 9). Again, the reality is that older operators recognize the value of adding products and services. However, their level of overall compliance is less than their younger counterparts.

Table 9
Addition of Products or Services to Meet the Needs of the Disabled Traveler by Length of Being in Business
Length of Being in Business Mean
Note: 1-2 year & 2-3 year categories
are significantly different from the
5 plus years category at the .0001 level
1-3 years 3.21
4-6 years 3.26
7-10 years 3.61
11-15 years 4.24
16 plus years 4.01

Sumary of Findings

Unfortunately, this study did not ask the respondents about their attitudes or the types of services they were offering. The answers to this question would have been helpful in determining the range of services provided to the disabled traveler. Undoubtedly, their answers could have been compared with the exemplary actions of Embassy Suites, Trump's Castle Casino Resort in Atlantic City, Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton, and other lodging operations that have developed widely acclaimed programs in the area of ADA compliance ( Delmont, 1993 ; O'Dwyer, 1992 ; Troy, 1993 ; and Gall, 1993 ). As for the findings of this study, the intent to add products or services indicated that the effect of complying was not perceived to be a major drain on lodging operations profit margin. Apparently, these lodging operators realized the economical impact and civic responsibility in meeting the needs of the estimated 43 million disabled travelers in the United States of America.

The current state of compliance by the hotels and motels in this nine county area in Minnesota is a positive sign for meeting the needs of the disabled traveler. Perhaps this is a result of the proactive approach taken by the Minnesota Office on Tourism and the Minnesota Disability Council. Both agencies serve as valuable resources for lodging operators in the area of public accommodation compliance. For instance, the Minnesota Office of Tourism conducts an annual survey of accessibility for all lodging properties in the state. According to this agency, the agency's role is to assist lodging operations in the state to comply with the ADA without undue hardship to the operation. Another factor is that approximately 68 percent of recent modifications occurred within the last three years. This possibly explains the generally high level of compliance. It is logical to find that necessary fundamental alterations happened during this period. Still, given this constant monitoring and support, the outcomes of this study indicated that changes in facilities concerning areas of public access, guest rooms, restaurants, and meeting rooms could be improved. Simply reviewing the figures suggests that 100 percent compliance in certain categories does not exist for all lodging operations. Apparently, the common areas of entry and highly traveled public "common" areas receive greater attention in terms of making the facility readily accessible, whereas, products such as use of Braille, tactile surfaces, non-slip surfaces, certain guest room specifications, and assistive listening devices in meeting rooms are areas needing improvement.


It should be noted that the findings of this study are limited by the regional analysis. The findings reflect the responses of the hotels and motels in this large metropolitan area of a major city in the United States. Therefore, caution should be taken in transferring these findings to other lodging operations in different geographical areas of the United States. The authors suggest that future research should be conducted by physical inspection of the various areas of the property. If done in this manner, the potential for rater bias would be removed from the ratings. Obviously, this would raise the validity of the study tremendously, and would result in a more accurate reflection of operator compliance.


What barriers exist in keeping a property from being 100 percent fully accessible? As mentioned previously, two major reasons for the lack of total compliance as established by the ADA are the vagueness of the wording in the legislation and the financial hardship upon the lodging operator. This study suggests that the vagueness of the law is not an issue for these lodging operators. This is probably an artifact of continual refinement and dissemination of information that pertai ns to the legislation since the law's enactment on January 26, 1992. Still, the respondents of this study definitely indicated that altering their facility evidenced a financial hardship. As mentioned previously, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) has discounted that financial hardship is a major concern. If these figures are realistic, then financial concerns appear to be minimal. Still, this does not imply that these alteration costs might not have a reduction effect upon the bottom line, which is exactly the concern of the operator.

Suggestions in Removing Barriers

The main outcome of this study is that barriers still exist. This is unfortunate for the disabled traveling consumer, because not all lodging operations are completely accessible. How can this situation be solved? There are certain actions that can be taken to remove existing barriers and perhaps move the industry along. After reviewing the actions of lodging operations that have taken the lead in providing a product and services that meet or exceed the needs of the disabled consumer, the following elements appear to be effective in removing compliance barriers ( Murrmann, 1992 ; Danner, 1993 ; Salmen, 1993 ). These elements are:

* Awareness. The lodging operator must be supportive of a climate that fosters the development of facilities and services that meet or exceed the needs of the disabled traveler.

* Interest. This element includes gaining the support and interest from all levels of management and staff in the implementation of compliance programs. Top management should be directly responsible for modeling, development, and reinforcement of accessible programs.

* Trial. The lodging operator must deliberately plan the what, when, and how of their accessibility programs. This assumes that human, financial, management, physical, and legal resources occur in an organized manner.

* Evaluation. Evaluation occurs internally or externally. Management must ensure that their evaluation systems require feedback from the disabled consumer on a periodic schedule. Once management collects this information and determines its feasibility, they should take action by incorporating the ideas and suggestions. Lodging operators should welcome the advice from external consultants or governmental agencies. The sharing of information with these sources can lead to the establishment of goodwill with these resources, and often these sources are much more in tune with conditions surrounding accessibility.

* Inviting Change. Inviting change is the most critical element in compliance. Why is this? This is because inviting change represents the philosophy of the organization to meet an objective. When management directs and supports efforts toward compliance, the message radiates throughout the lodging operation. As mentioned previously, lodging operations such as Holiday Inn, Hilton, Embassy Suites, Marriott, and others have taken a proactive stance on the issue of accessibility. The result of this stance has projected a positive public impression concerning the civic actions taken by the organization. The key is to invite constructive criticism and to make changes that are economically feasible and that project an image of your organization behaving in a socially responsible manner.


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Randall S. Upchurch is an assistant professor and Graduate Program Director in the Department of Hospitality Management at the University of Wisconsin, Stout. JunWoo Seo is a researcher in the Department of Hospitality Management at the University of Wisconsin, Stout.

Copyright 1996 Journal of the International Academy of Hospitality Research


This journal is registered with the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 27 Congress Street, Salem, MA 01970, USA. Duplication is permitted for academic or research purposes but not for commercial purposes. Libraries are permitted to distribute the journal electronically to institutional faculty, students and employees via local area networks or institutional mainframe computers.



John Bareham Horace A. Divine
Brighton Polytechnic, U.K. University of Denver
Donald E. Hawkins Chuck Gee
George Washington University University of Hawaii-Manoa
Michael Haywood Mahmood A. Khan
University of Guelph Ontario, Canada Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
William Kent Robert C. Lewis
Auburn University University of Guelph
Ken McCleary Robert C. Mill
Virginia Polytechnic Institue and State University University of Denver
Abraham Pizam Turgut Var
Texas A&M University University of Central Florida
Michael Olsen Brian Wise
Virginia Polytechnic and State University Queen Victoria University


When this journal was founded as one of the first electronic journals in the fall of 1990, subscribers were required to pay a subscription fee ($30 per year for libraries, $20 for individuals, $10 for students). After the first year of experience, the editor and publisher agreed to offer it free of charge for the years 1992 and 1993. Starting 1993, this electronic journal is offered on the Internet without charge.

Please tell your associates, colleagues, students and others-- all who are interested in hospitality research-- about this change. We hope it will greatly increase the journal's circulation and contribution to the field.


"The Journal of the International Academy of Hospitality Research" (JIAHR) welcomes for review original papers on all aspects of hospitality and tourism research. Each paper should be submitted electronically in ASCII format, on disk or as an electronic file, along with the source document on disk and a hard (paper) copy. The editors welcome tables with articles but, because of technical problems in transmission, cannot accept graphs or pictorial illustrations. Papers generally should be written in conformity with the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Third Edition. Because of electronic transmission of articles among editors and referees, a prompt response to submissions can be expected. For further information and/or guidelines about submitting a paper, contact Editor, JIAHR, Room 354, Wallace Hall, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0429, USA; telephone 703/231-8424, USA; or send e-mail to JIAHRED@VTVM1 (Bitnet), or JIAHRED@VTVM1.CC.VT.EDU (Internet).


The Journal is seeking reviewers for submitted manuscripts and providing constructive feedback to authors. If you are intersted in offering your services, please e-mail or write to the Editor. In your letter, please include a) a description of your areas of expertise and research interests, b) a brief statement describing your experience as a reviewer, and c) a copy of your vita.