On the go at a trade show

Friday, September 30, 2005

LAS VEGAS - A company that over the past eight years has carved out a niche for itself by renting thousands of scooters and wheelchairs to travelers each year has begun marketing its services to seminars and corporate events.
Scootaround, which operates 500 locations in North America and around the world, designed its new Corporate Events Services division to make conventions, seminars and corporate events more accessible to mobility-challenged attendees.
"We got to the point where we decided to go ahead; we recognized a need for other services," said Christie Procter, director of Corporate Event Services. The company estimates up to 20 % of event attendees may be classified as disabled.
The new service works like this: An event organizer simply contacts Scootaround's corporate services department and Scootaround takes over from there. The company takes into consideration show details, such as attendance rates, venue and demographics like age of attendees.
"They come to us as consultants and ask, 'What do you think we need,' said Procter. "We have great experience in the field."
Procter uses that experience in her hands-on approach.
"I might go in and do a site visit to check the size and the set-up," said Procter, who then makes recommendations to organizers. She also helps them meet ADA standards.
The company's new service is threefold. Scooter and wheelchair rentals are available to attendees who pay for short-term rentals with cash, check or credit card. Rates vary depending on location and local factors such as cost of gas.
Scootaround also offers assistive staffing, providing help to attendees needing help getting on and off buses or an escort to their seats.
Finally, the company can supply shuttle services at large venues for mobility-challenged patients, although Procter said if someone wanted to hop a ride, they could.
The program was officially launched about six months ago. Procter said Scootaround's growth is largely Internet driven but also attributes their success to travel guide listings and facilities contracts.
The company's largest event so far was a convention with 45,000 attendees. Procter estimates the new division will service about 200 events per year.