Accessible Travel Certification Opens Possibilities for Travelers Using Mobility Equipment
- By Elisha Bury
- Jun 01, 2012
Images courtesy of Special Needs Group
Traveling for people who use mobility equipment just got a little easier thanks to a new certification for travel agents. The certification aims to increase travel agents’ knowledge of the accessible travel market.
Special Needs Group (SNG) launched its Accessible Travel Advocate course in November, and already some 425 travel professionals have earned the SNG Certified Accessible Travel Advocate designation.
“We created the program to ensure that individuals who have special needs will know that travel is possible,” says Andrew J. Garnett, president and CEO of Special Needs Group and Special Needs at Sea. “We have been trying to spread the word for many years and consistently came across people who said, ‘I didn't know that type of service existed’ or from travel agents who said, ‘I had a client with special needs last month asking me to book a trip for them. I told them it wasn't something that could be done.’”
Garnett says travel agents needed more education about the possibilities, especially as the population ages and more people begin to use mobility equipment to get around. The three-part course focuses on understanding accessible travel, building expertise in accessible travel and demonstrating accessible advocacy skills. Travel agents will learn about the different types of mobility equipment available and what questions to ask to place clients in the correct mobility equipment rentals. The course also includes role-playing scenarios to help travel agents learn how to best equip clients with mobility issues.
“Potential clients with special needs can expect to have the SNG Certified Accessible Travel Advocate agent select an appropriate itinerary for their interests and possible needs, appropriate side trips or excursions that would meet their interests, and the appropriate hotel room or cruise ship cabin for what they may want or need,” says Garnett. “SNG Certified Accessible Travel Advocates will also have the ability to direct clients to the appropriate equipment they may require for their trip and arrange everything regarding equipment for them.”
Best of all, booking through an agent with the SNG certification costs the same as it would if clients were to book the trip themselves.
"Special Needs Group's Accessible Travel Advocate course has allowed travel professionals to understand the potential of the accessible travel market, who that market is, and how to serve that market," said Charlie Funk, co-owner and president of Just Cruisin' Plus in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "Travelers with special needs can now realize that there are go-to companies with accessible travel training that can answer their needs."
To find an agent with the SNG certification, visit the Special Needs Group Web site.
Elisha Bury is the editor of The Mobility Project. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.