A recent podcast from Skift, the travel resource center, shared that adults with disabilities in the United States spend $17.3 billion a year on leisure and business travel, and 26 million adults with disabilities took 73 million trips in 2016 (Samson, 2017). Thus, during the Spring of 2019 HRT 410 students collaborated with Brett Heinsing from brettapproved – a website and review site that makes traveling easier for people with disabilities (PWDs). Brett traveled from Arizona and worked with our students to gain knowledge and training skills to better serve PWDs in the hospitality and tourism industry. He shared tips and suggestions on how the students, either currently or in the future, can be better advocates and allies for PWDs in the hospitality and tourism fields.
Students visited Brett at one of his downtown Knoxville hotels to critique how his hotel was accessible for PWDs. They walked through his hotel room and noticed, first hand, how an accessible (ADA) room was equipped and critiqued the layout for inclusiveness, not just accessibility. After their week long experience with Brett, the students, in teams of six, collaborated on developing power point materials to present to front of house and managerial staff at two Knoxville hotels.
Throughout the semester, students created Blogs reflecting on their experiences with the project, discussions in class, and articles/podcasts around strategic management in hospitality and tourism. Select students presented their work at the RHTM advisory board meeting, the Greater Knoxville Hospitality Association monthly meeting, and helped with the community presentation to tourism and hospitality industry leaders. This project helped increase our students’ awareness around inclusion and accessibility in our community and industry.
This Fall 2019, two former students from HRT 410 will be working as consultants for LogHaven with creating an accessibility assessment for their artist residency cabins in South Knoxville. This showcases the expertise and professionalism from the course that can be applied to better help our Knoxville community become more inclusive for PWDs.