Take me to...By Michael Holden MBE -
Now I’m not advocating with putting up with bad facilities for the sake of it, but sometimes things go wrong, even for the able world out there. Having put that across, I find that it’s also doable with some research to make sure I can go where I would like to go and do what I’d like to do when I get there! Invariably, most sites have an accessibility statement, and too many times I have found that to be inaccurate, poorly presented and with too little information. Hearing what others think about a location is invaluable, which is why I set up trip-ability.com. It wasn’t intended to be a place to moan about things, but rather highlight what was good about a place and recommend some tips to improving a visit, so that you can be informed about them before you go and not find out about them towards the end of a holiday and think, ‘if only I’d known that!’. Lots of places are inaccessible and don’t want my money, so I really want to show my loyalty to those that have chosen to be inclusive.
Utilising the services of a travel professional is another way of securing a better holiday experience as well. They make it their work to find out about accessible places, things to do and local agents to connect with if you are trying to rent or hire a piece of equipment. Arranging transport or providing details of local taxi companies are all bits of invaluable information when travelling away from home. It also means that you have someone you can turn to if something goes wrong. Building a relationship with a travel agent is no different than those built with healthcare professionals or equipment providers, you don’t have to interact with them every day, but they get to know you and what it is you enjoy in a holiday. Plus, there are things going on in the industry that we aren’t necessarily aware of and these agents are in a position to raise issues and offer up ideas at international conferences, so as to aid improvements moving forward.
Working at a local university to obtain a degree in Management Practice, one of the things I learnt from chatting to the younger students, especially those with who are disabled, is that travel has made the world a smaller place. Generation Z, as they are referred to, want to explore alternative destinations in the far east, South America, and even try their hand at extreme sports. This offers up many problems for them as well as it also presents a paradox for the travel industry. The assumption is that disabled people can’t afford those types of holiday or that they don’t want to experience that type of holiday. Well I’ve got news for them too – they’re wrong!
I have also chatted to leaders in the hotel industry who claim that the take up of accessible rooms is only 0.01% of their total occupancy and that it isn’t worth the investment. As a businessman and a guy married with a family of two school aged children; I posed the following questions.
- When I got married, how many of your hotels would have catered for me to have a fully accessible honeymoon suite?
- How many of your fully accessible bedrooms are also suitable for a family of at least 4?
- How many of your leisure facilities are accessible as well as the bedroom and restaurant?
- Do you have accessible suites?
- What about rooms with balconies and not just those overlooking the carpark?
Some locations are making drastic improvements and sites like mine and travel agents are able to share this detail with you, so use them and share with them, so the next person can enjoy it as well. I always tell people not to forget about reviewing their own town to begin with, after all your home could well be a holiday for someone else. #abletodoit