Robin Sheppard to champion disability issues in hotels
Robin Sheppard has been appointed as one of 11 Sector Champions who will drive forward the UK government’s ambition to tackle the issues disabled people face as consumers.
Sheppard’s appointment was announced by Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, and the Bespoke Hotels chairman will be the Sector Champion for hotels.
The Champions, who represent a range of different sectors and businesses, from banking to retail, will use their influential status as leaders in their industries to promote the benefits of being inclusive to disabled people.
There are currently more than 11 million disabled people in the UK and the spending power of their households – ‘the purple pound’ – is almost £250 billion.
But many businesses are missing out on this potential customer base by having everyday products and services that aren’t available to disabled people – who, as a result, are regularly excluded from experiences and opportunities that many others take for granted.
The sector champions will amplify the voices of disabled customers and employees within their own industries, increasing accountability and challenging inequality. They will also be able to highlight specific changes and improvements that will make a difference to the millions of people who often miss out.
Mordaunt said: “As a public advocate for accessibility, Robin Sheppard will help businesses realise the value of disabled consumers and the importance of catering to every customer’s needs.
“These industries must become fully inclusive. Not being able to access the high street, products and services, transport or simply to access a loo jars with our national values: it must change.”
The new sector champions will drive improvements to the accessibility and quality of services and facilities in their sector, helping to showcase best practice and show other businesses the merit of making disabled customers a priority.
Sheppard said: “‘I would like an upgrade to a disabled suite please’… if we can change hearts and minds in the hotel industry to make such a question elicit a positive answer, then working as an industry champion will have been worthwhile.”
Sheppard has been an hotelier for over 40 years and in 2000 co-founded The Bespoke Hotel Company which now manages over 170 hotels worldwide and is now its Chair. He is passionate about driving change for disabled people, having launched the Bespoke Access Awards at the House of Lords in April 2016, through which he is trying to change hearts and minds to improve the anticipation of, and respect for, disabled guests in hotels and restaurants.