Talking Point: Ilunion Hotels and their accessibility focused business model

 Confortel Suites Madrid 2.pptx

For this month's theme we talk to Tourism for Tomorrow 'People Award' winner Ilunion Hotels, about how and why they champion accessibility throughout their hotels in Spain.

Ilunion Hotels was formed with a double objective; on the one hand to be a profitable, sustainable company, and on the other to incorporate within the workforce people with some type of disability. Currently it has 22 three and four-star hotels, all of them in Spain.

The hotel chain has social commitment in its DNA. A commitment that continues to remove the barriers, both physical and mental, that confront those with a disability both in their professional development and in their leisure, whether they are customers or employees.

Within the tourism sector Ilunion champions the dream of a universally accessible, egalitarian world. It began with this vocation and, these days, it is an example of accessibility and tourism for all. The fact that it is the only hotel chain to have had all its establishments certified in accordance with universal accessibility standards UNE 170001, backs this up.

The company is also a leader in workforce inclusion for those with a disability. In 2014, 13.3% of staff had some type of disability. In addition to direct contracting, the company sub-contracts services or products, such as room cleaning, industrial laundry, pest management systems, telephone line and exchange rental, commercial products, etc. from other “Special Employment Centres”. When these employees are included, 40% of Ilunion's workforce have a disability.

We have the first two hotels in Spain which are “Special Employment Centres”; Ilunion Suites Madrid and Ilunion Valencia 3. A “Special Employment Centre” is a place of work where the staff is made up of at least 70% of people with some type of disability, and whose main objective is to ensure employees conduct productive, paid work while attending the specific needs of "personal rehabilitation and social adaptation" through "personal and social adaptation services" for workers. The centres are promoting and empowering employment and social autonomy. Thanks to this formula we have managed to integrate some of the groups which have most difficulties finding work, such as those with intellectual disabilities and mental illness.

Our main challenge is to facilitate incorporation into the labour market for those with a disability, normalising their situation and enabling their socialisation. Our second challenge is to continue with the creation of “Special Employment Centres”, thus demonstrating our trust in those with a disability, and serving as a model for workforce incorporation both for the tourism sector and for others.

Beyond the advantages for businesses, integration and accessibility contribute towards building a fairer, more supportive, more generous society, and create a positive effect in the recruitment of people with talent, whether with or without a disability.

Ilunion defends the fact that universal access and design for all benefits the entire population, as it guarantees use by anyone, independently of any possible limitations they may have. Our customers with a disability are looking to forget everything when they stay at our hotels, confident in the knowledge that we can attend any special need that may arise in an immediate, natural manner.

Ilunion does not only promote the integration of those with a disability through taking them on, but also has specific plans to make the staff aware with regards to accessibility, and also train them in customer care and working protocols when dealing with those with a disability. Improving knowledge regarding disability, beginning with their own colleagues, contributes towards eliminating the psychological barriers which exist, normalising a situation which for us is nothing out of the ordinary. The personnel feel part of a unique project, and feel that they are contributing towards the creation of a better, fairer world, and take part voluntarily through their everyday work. Thus we manage to create in all our workers a feeling of pride for a job well done, helping those who have a disability to demonstrate that they can make excellent professionals through the performance of their duties.

Accessibility and socially sustainable development make our business model unique, and increasingly valued by a customer who is sensitive to the huge challenges faced by today's society.  If we are capable of designing with those with the greatest difficulties in mind, we will be contributing towards creating a society which is better for everyone.

Applying this unique innovative vision, Ilunion Hotels expects to open nine or ten further hotels in the next three years in both the urban and the holiday markets, and will continue to expand its exemplary business model.

Ilunion Hotels part of ILUNION, the business group of ONCE and its Foundation, and was created in 1988. To find out more visit their website. Or read more about the Tourism for Tomorrow Winners here.

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