Traveling with HME: Course turns agents into advocates

Sunday, January 22, 2012

DAVINA BEACH, Fla. - People with special needs can travel--and enjoy the trip.

Andrew Garnett wants to make sure travel agents know that, and that they pass the information along to their clients. 

His company, Special Needs At Sea, launched an hour-long, online course in November to educate travel agents on how to ensure a client with any kind of special need can travel safely and comfortably. 

"A lot of people are under the impression that, as they age, they can't travel," said Garnett. "We want people to know it is possible, and getting the word out to travel agents will get the word out to consumers."

 Special Needs at Sea supplies HME to travelers on cruise ships and in every major port around the world, as well as at resorts, theme parks and convention centers. 

The benefit here: customers can leave their HME at home, where it will remain safe and sound.

"We've all had that brand new suitcase that, after one trip, looks like it's a year old," said Garnett. "Unfortunately, that's the same place scooters and power wheelchairs go when you travel."

The "Accessible Travel Advocate" course offers an overview of different types of HME available to consumers and suggestions on how to overcome customer objections that travel would be too difficult. 

Garnett said he might open the course to HME providers who want to know more about what their patients would need to take a trip. 

"It builds a rapport with their clientele," Garnett said. "It builds loyalty among customers who (otherwise) might like to price shop."