Analysing the Rhetoric of Accessibility: How Well Do New Zealand’s Hotel Restaurants Meet the Needs of Customers With Disabilities?

Shetty, Eshwar
McIntosh, Alison
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Master of International Hospitality Management
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Auckland University of Technology

The concept of “accessible tourism” enables people with access requirements/disabilities, including mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive dimensions of access to function independently with equity and dignity through the delivery of universally designed tourism products, services and environments (Darcy and Dickson, 2009). Using case study methods, this research aims to investigate the best practices in accessibility among hotel restaurants in New Zealand. The study has two objectives: (1) Identify the strategies and tactics used by the three case study hotel restaurants considered as champions of accessibility, and (2) Critically analyse the rhetoric of accessibility communicated online by the three case study hotel restaurants. The three cases chosen for the research were Sudima Hotels, CQ Hotels and The Rydges Auckland hotel. The three cases are noted champions of accessibility. The website communications of these three cases were analysed to be able to answer the objectives of the research aim. The reason why best practices in accessibility implemented by these champions are being investigated is because research indicated that information on accessibility of restaurants in order to improve the dining experience for people with disabilities (PWDs) is scarce in hospitality and tourism scholarship. A three phase methodology with an interpretivist paradigm was implemented in this research for the exploratory study of the websites of the three hotel restaurants. The three phases in the methodology included a categorical analysis which was used to analyse visual design elements across the websites. The second phase was the content analysis which was used to provide a descriptive analysis of commonalities of content. The third phase, which was the rhetorical analysis, used phase 1 and phase 2 data, as well as company quotes and statements from the websites for a more critical view of first and second order meaning of the visual design elements, not only in relation to each other, but also in the context of the specific organisational settings, the research question and the researcher (Greenwood et al., 2019). Through the findings of the three phase methodology, the best practices implemented by the three cases were found out. The categorical analysis findings showed the best practices in terms of accessible display of content and visual design elements on the website. This included the use of high colour contrast for display of information on the websites, the use of two-step click process to access accessible information, and provision of a common central tab present on the top of the page consisting of links to subsequent webpages. Through the content analysis certain strategies and tactics implemented by the three cases to bring about accessibility were identified. The strategies identified through the content analysis included (i) Accreditations with social change organisations (ii) Inclusion of PWDs in the workforce (iii) Use of persuasive language and the effective (iv) Use of imagery. Similarly, multiple tactics in terms of accessible facilities that were implemented by the three cases were identified. Examples of common tactics found included provision of Braille menus and availability of trained staff to support PWDs in the restaurant. The rhetorical analysis findings showed how the three cases used quotes and statements indicating themes around (i) Accessibility is for all (ii) Persuasion for the Inclusion of PWDs (iv) Validity and (v) Persuasion for social change. This dissertation concludes with certain practical recommendations originating from the findings of the research and implications for imagining and moving towards a more moral, inclusive and accessible society.

New Zealand Hotel Restaurants , Accessible tourism , Rhetoric of accessibility , Accessibility , Social change , Inclusion , People with disabilities , Case study methods , Three phase methodology
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