There’s no denying that travellers with disabilities are under catered to in the tourism sector as a number of accommodation providers, transfer operators, airlines & even cruise lines fall short in their accessible offerings.
With some 20 percent of Australians (3.96 million) recognised as having a disability, it’s a greatly missed opportunity for the tourism industry.
Even more concerning is that travellers with disabilities are aware of the industry’s accessible shortcomings, and in some cases may even be hesistant to book a holiday due to a lack of information and services available.
Thankfully, there’s Travel Agents, who may not necessarily be experts in accessible tourism but do have the right access and contacts to put together an itinerary that’ll almost guarantee a safe and comfortable holiday.
Here’s how Travel Agents are best equipped to help travellers with disabilities:
1. First & foremost, they’ll ensure your covered
Travel insurance is one of the most vital requirements of travel, yet it’s often one of the last to be considered. If it’s considered at all.
Insurance can also be difficult to understand, fortunately, Travel Agents speak the lingo well.
They’ll ensure travellers with disabilities take out travel insurance that not only covers existing issues but potential incidents that may occur on the road.
Consultants will also insist travel insurance is taken out from the moment a deposit is made.
2. Sometimes, they have special services available to assist
While Travel Agents understand the barriers in booking a holiday for someone with a disability, they know that they’re not necessarily equipped to tackle it alone. That’s why they’ll sometimes recruit an expert to assist.
For example, a Flight Centre in Adelaide has a free monthly interpreter service available for hard of hearing travellers. The interpreter makes it easier for deaf people to communicate their travel desires as well as express any concerns.
3. They can find the right accommodation, operator & even, cruise
While Craig Kennedy, the Disability Consultant & Trainer at the Open Doors Organisation in the USA, told Travel Pulse that physical access can be one of the biggest obstacles faced by travellers with disabilities, consultants can make the search for accessible-friendly suppliers a little easier.
In the Q&A, Kennedy admitted that airport shuttles are rarely equipped to handle wheelchairs and finding a hotel with a well-designed roll-in shower can be a challenge.
However, if it’s out there, a consultant has the means to find it through their many contacts.
Kennedy said consultants should be able to “call ahead and ask specific questions” such as accessible parking, path of travel to main entrance, accessible restroom availability, doorway width and accessible-friendly public transport.
Click here for the full interview.
4. They can notify hotels, airlines & cruise lines of your needs
If you’ve ever rocked up to your hotel with a special anniversary note waiting or received a small birthday acknowledgement, it’s likely because the Travel Agent requested special treatment for you.
Beyond celebrating big days, Agents also have the ability to notify hotels, airlines and cruise lines of their client’s special requirements.
5. And finally, they’re with you every step or wheel of the way
As the saying goes, “without a Travel Agent, you’re on your own”, but with one you have assistance every step of the journey. They’ll be able to assist if anything goes wrong and do their best to deliver a safe and enjoyable escape.
- READ: Gondolas in Venice are now wheelchair accessible
- READ: Wheelchair-friendly lines & how they accommodate travellers
- READ: Flight Centre provides free interpreter service for hard of hearing travellers
What are some of the other benefits of using a Travel Agent?
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