There has been a great deal of press speculation recently regarding the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and its implications for our industry.
The focus of discussion seems to have been on the costs that will be incurred as a result - bedrooms and cloakrooms for the disabled, wheelchair access, adapted reception desks, not to mention the time and effort involved in training managers and staff to best respond to guest needs.
In view of the costs, and understandably perhaps, a number of hotel and catering organisations seem to have taken a rather negative view of the act and its implications.
However, it is important to remember what the act is all about - fairness of access and use of services for everyone. We are, after all, talking about our customers here, people who use our restaurants, our bars, our facilities.
At Gordon Ramsay Holdings, we have been very proactive in responding to the requirements of the DDA because we realise that access for all is essential and makes good business sense. We have carried out audits, looked closely at our facilities and, more than that, we have carried out training for most of our staff. This training focuses not only on the implications of the act but also on how we can best respond to guest needs.
As an industry that is involved in looking after people, we must ensure that we embrace the act, not fight it. We must put in place appropriate training to ensure that we are, as far as possible, striving to meet the needs of all customers, whatever their requirements.
The act is here to stay, so come October this year, when it comes into full force, we need to be as prepared as we can and to keep improving the service we offer our guests.