Riverside Resort Urunga
To improve accommodation offering for people with disability and increase occupancy rates.
Riverside Resort in Urunga is part of the Federation of Community, Sporting and Workers Clubs Inc, a non-profit organisation. The demographic of members is aging, and a considerable proportion of guest are baby boomers. Improving services for this client group has both a moral mandate and a business benefit.
After attending an initial Inclusive Tourism Awareness training course run in conjunction with Bellingen Shire local council, the Resort commissioned an access audit of their property.
Numerous barriers to access were identified, as well as accessible features that could be built upon. Recommendations were provided for improvements in the short, medium and long term. For example, transforming some ground floor units into “easy access” units by installing grabrails to bathrooms.
Changes were made through the regular maintenance program and scheduled into the long-term capital expenditure program. This included the expansion of the resort to include a total of 5 wheelchair accessible and 21 ground floor accessible apartments, along with the refurbishment of the office to make it accessible and inclusive to all guests. Mentoring was provided throughout the initial implementation phase.
Melissa also worked with Riverside to develop their marketing and communications, including the information for an Access Statement for the website. The property was the listed on several accessible accommodation websites. A campaign was developed to reach out to disability organisations and promote the property.
Staff attended training workshops to increase their level of comfort and confidence in dealing with customers with a disability. Staff were mentored in how to use the access statement when answering inquiries from potential guests.
Prior to the changes, the accessible units were primarily used for overflow and had low occupancy rates. In 2017 the occupancy rate was 55% of which approximately 20% were wheelchair users. By 2019 the rate had climbed to 73% of which 90% were wheelchair users.
Riverside was also successful in winning a grant of $950,000 through the Building Better Regions Federal program to build 8 additional units, two of which are wheelchair accessible and three are easy access.
The resort has now won multiple local, regional, and State tourism awards in both 2018 and 2019. They have also adopted an inclusive employment practice and are employing people with disabilities.