Special Needs Group certifies 3,000 travel professionals

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

DANIA BEACH, Fla. – Special Needs Group, a provider of scooter and wheelchair rentals around the globe, in November celebrated the fifth anniversary of its Certified Accessible Travel Advocate Program.

The program allows travel professionals to become knowledgeable about the accessible travel market through an online, three-module, certification program.

“Up until five years ago, the travel agency distribution system —which enables automated transactions between airlines, hotels and car rental companies and travel agencies—never really spoke to the opportunity to serve the accessible travel market with basic equipment needs and services,” said Jim Smith, SNG’s senior travel industry consultant. “There was a dire need for fundamental education.”

Travel professionals learn everything from the size and scope of the market, including characteristics and demographics, and develop a basic understanding of how to satisfy mobility and oxygen needs. To date, 3,131 travel professionals are SNG Certified Accessible Travel Advocates. 

Besides education, SNG provides wheelchair, scooter, oxygen and other rentals for major cruise lines, as well as guests visiting hotels, resorts, theme parks and convention centers, and offers a broad range of special needs equipment for purchase. It serves 135 cities in more than 30 countries.

“If Aunt Edna thinks she can’t go on the family reunion trip because she needs oxygen, Aunt Edna is usually not the only one that doesn’t go,” said Smith. “Usually her husband, Uncle Ed, doesn’t go and maybe their kids, Eddie and Eduardo, don’t either. There’s a lot of missed opportunity from the consumer standpoint in terms of the freedom of travel, and that’s what SNG’s mantra is all about: delivering an accessible world.”

And that world is only going to get bigger.

“The baby boomers are the first generation that grew up with travel as a birth right,” said Smith.

And, unlike the greatest generation, which “had too much pride to get behind the wheel of mobility equipment,” baby boomers are more likely to hop on a scooter, he added.

“You’re looking at shifting demographics, shifting psychographics, and the result is a tremendous opportunity for the accessible travel market to be served effectively,” said Smith. “And it’s incumbent on travel professionals to be able to deliver value.”