Hyatt survey focuses on neurodivergent travellers

by: Mark Caswell | April 30, 2024

US: Hyatt has collaborated with sensory inclusive training and certification firm KultureCity to survey neurodivergent individuals and caregivers on their hotel needs.

The hotel group said that more than 90 per cent of neurodivergent individuals and caregivers of neurodivergent individuals in the US plan to travel at least one night this year, leading to the research into how hotels can make their journeys more seamless and inclusive.

The survey – which was also carried out in collaboration with consultants from New York University’s Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality – collected responses from 1,020 neurodivergent individuals and caregivers representing a cross-section of the US population in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, and income levels.

It found that nearly 70 per cent of caregivers and more than half of neurodivergent travellers would disclose their neurodiversity during the booking process to enable a hotel to better serve them, with this figure rising to above 75 per cent for neurodivergent business travellers.

More than half of neurodivergent respondents would like to see more property visual layouts such as 3D virtual tours and floorplans, and more than 60 per cent of caregivers believe pre-assigned rooms could help the check-in experience.

Both neurodivergent travellers and caregivers signalled they would like to be able to select rooms that fit individual needs such as those with less potential noise – but many also noted that hotels should stay flexible with guests “as travel could be new to them and their needs may change upon arrival given the shift of environment”.

In terms of pre-arrival communication email is the most preferred method for both neurodivergent travellers and caregivers, but 30 per cent of neurodivergent individuals would like to receive a phone call about their upcoming stay, rising to more than 50 per cent of business travellers.

Finally, around 60 per cent of Millenials and Gen Z respondents would like to see amenities designed to aid sleep such as pillow menus, sleep masks, noise cancelling headphones and meditation / sound machines.

Hyatt said that several of its properties had received KultureCity’s Sensory Inclusive Certification, including Hyatt House Seattle/Bellevue, Hyatt House Seattle/Redmond, Hyatt Place Salt Lake City/Downtown/The Gateway, Hyatt Place New York/Yonkers, Hyatt House Philadelphia/King of Prussia, Hyatt Place St. Paul/Downtown and Hyatt Place Arlington/Courthouse Plaza.

The group also highlighted the Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla (pictured above), which is a designated Certified Autism Centre, and the Park Hyatt New York and Hotel Figueroa, which offer rooms designed to optimise rest such as the Sleep Suite by Bryte and Rest & Recovery Suite.

Hyatt said that it had recently expanded its collaboration with meditation app Headspace, and said that selected US properties offered tools including sensory aids and weighted blankets as part of the Hyatt Has It scheme.

Commenting on the findings Hyatt’s chief commercial officer Mark Vondrasek said that “as we are learning more, we will work closely with the Hyatt disABILITIES Diversity Business Resource Group and our expert collaborators to advise us on how to make improvements throughout the guest journey to be more inclusive”.

Meanwhile, Sean Culkin, KultureCity team member, autism self-advocate, and member of the neurodivergent community said: “Individuals with invisible disabilities are often misunderstood and our collaboration with Hyatt aims to change that by directly listening to the community.

“With KultureCity carving the path for inclusion and awareness and Hyatt leading the way to have an open conversation to uncover areas of improvement, we can provide the tools and resources for the hospitality industry to encourage neurodivergent travellers, so they too can immerse themselves in the transformative powers of travel.”

Last year Marriott International announced a commitment to incorporate neuroinclusive practices at the group’s hosted customer events of 250 people or more.

The move was the result of partnering with Google Experience Institute’s The Neu Project, an initiative which aims to “demystify and educate event professionals on the design of more neuroinclusive experiences through a helpful guide and checklist”.

Marriott introduces neuroinclusive practices at its largest customer events

Image supplied by Hyatt.