When it comes to how businesses approach accessibility there is a profound revolution taking place and impressively is being driven forward by the hospitality industry.
EP spoke to Ed Warner, Founder and CEO of Motionspot who believes in this important change taking place and how winning an Accessibility award propelled his business growth.
Ed Warner built his business through a genuine commitment to making a positive difference. He witnessed one of his closest friends James Taylor, struggle and become frustrated by something so seemingly simple but sadly seldom done. He wanted a home which was accessible but at the same time stylish.
In a freak accident James broke his neck whilst diving into the sea in Portugal and following eight months in hospital returned home to his flat in Battersea to find a range of equipment had been installed to help make his life easier. However all of these items had been designed for a hospital rather than a home. James and his wife had to live in a home not only inappropriately designed to suit their personal style and taste but was simply dull and unattractive – grey padded shower seats, white plastic support rails and depressing furniture.
Ed saw a friend in need and offered to source better options. But they were all met with limited choice, poor advice, condescending customer service, unclear pricing and bad design. This frustration is where Motionspot was born, a business which brings together beautifully designed accessible products alongside creative design ideas. Creating a stylish enabling environment for all.
When one meets Ed, you do still feel this energy from when he created the business. He believes change is being made but not at the pace truly required. With a background in sales and marketing roles in Fast-Moving Consumer Goods companies including One Water – a business where all profit is donated to fund water projects in Africa – Ed is well versed to spearhead the evolution taking place.
He explains those early frustrations, “When one goes through a life changing situation you don’t want to have only one option when it comes to how your home or business looks. When James was searching for his home his only option at the time was products designed for the NHS which just didn’t look good.”
Since those early days Ed has moved the Motionspot design studio twice as the team has grown and he now has a collective of access specialists, occupational therapists and interior designers who work on both residential and commercial projects. As he looks to work with both worlds, he has found that the journey so far has been one largely made up of education. “Many operators in the past have ticked the box to adhere to building regulations but the majority of spaces haven’t actually met the needs of all guests whether they be in wheelchairs or with conditions such as arthritis, sight loss and hearing loss. We’ve worked with a number of businesses and provided design advice, quality products and simple guides which highlight the access features in the hotel. We also work with operators to demonstrate the potential loss of revenue from having poorly designed facilities that are putting guests off from travelling in the first place”
One of the visions for Ed is for every hospitality space to be designed to allow everyone to enjoy an experience in the industry.
It may seem surprising given the ‘purple pound’ is a market worth £249 billion to the UK economy that hospitality businesses aren’t deciding to embrace accessibility to the extent where every room in a hotel is suitable, stylish and inspiring. This is a goal for Ed and his team to demonstrate that good design should be inclusive for everyone. In addition to improving access in the hospitality industry, Motionspot operates in retirement homes, care providers and across public spaces. They have also recently been engaged to work on a project with Transport for London who are looking to improve their accessibility across their transport network for passengers with a cognitive or sensory impairment.
One of the visions for Ed is for every hospitality space to be designed to allow everyone to enjoy an experience in the industry. The ideal future means all accessible rooms will look stylish and guests will be none the wiser. Ed and his team have created a number of ingenious flexible designs which allow a hotel bedroom to transform to suit whatever the needs of the guests whose staying. For example, removable and stylish grab rails, attractive seats in the shower which can be simply fitted if required and even a disguised ceiling track hoist for those who need support in getting out of bed.
This activity shows that there are solutions available to hoteliers and all industry operators for beautiful accessible bedrooms, ensuites and communal spaces including accessible reception areas, restaurants, lounges, bars, spas and external areas. It just takes a bit of commitment to embrace some clever ideas which should actually return more value. Ed also emphasises that all budgets can be considered and it doesn’t have to be an expensive process, particularly if planned early enough in a new build or refurbishment program. The return on investment is obvious as not only will these designs help unlock the spend of the purple pound but the improved room aesthetics will help maintain RevPar rates, as currently many guests allocated an accessible room complain because of the poor design asking either for a move or a discount on the room.
Exciting projects in the pipeline for Motionspot include Jumeirah and Grange Hotels, as well as new developments for Edwardian Hotels London and Bespoke Hotels. For the latter Ed is working on some innovative accessible room designs for their new property opening in Manchester in 2019, Hotel Brooklyn.
“…our forward-thinking hospitality clients understand the social and commercial value of having well designed environments that are accessible to all.”
“We are challenging perceptions as to what is possible in accessible design and our forward-thinking hospitality clients understand the social and commercial value of having well designed environments that are accessible to all. By adopting good access principles and focusing on stylish design hospitality operators are inspiring other sectors like retirement and care developers who are looking to build hotel like environments with additional care services. International clients are also keen to understand how they can improve access in their markets and there is the potential is for UK hospitality to lead the way in this area”
Ed is one of the future leaders who will help drive the hospitality sector into a new dawn where accessibility is treated with the respect and admiration it deserves. Age-old mindsets can be changed, and hospitality spaces can look trendy, can work operationally and can be accessible. Change is taking place and there is a new way of accessibility becoming of great relevance.