An agent has urged the trade to give more attention to the needs of travellers with disabilities because it makes a “huge difference” to the customer while boosting agents’ earning potential.
InteleTravel homeworker Caroline Hamilton (pictured), who has a son with autism and dyspraxia, recommends that agents should make sure they always ask clients if anyone in the group has special requirements.
Any extra efforts to help travellers who have hidden disabilities will be hugely appreciated, Hamilton told delegates at the agency’s annual conference.
She said: “People will come back and book with the agent again because they will think, ‘That agent was so good – they made sure everything was so special for my son’.”
The mother of three, who joined InteleTravel four years ago, appeared on a panel in Malaga discussing accessibility.
She said her 11-year-old son is treated “like a VIP” at airports because he wears a sunflower lanyard indicating that he has hidden disabilities.
“We will always board the plane first so my son can get sat down and put on his noise-cancelling headphones and get settled,” said Hamilton, of London, who previously worked in investment banking.
She said the travel industry has made greater progress on accessibility than other sectors, but more promotion should be done about what help is available for travellers with disabilities.
“People are so accommodating within the travel industry and it’s not just in airports,” said mother-of-three Hamilton, originally from Newport in Wales.
Families can often be hesitant about travelling if a child has a disability, said Hamilton, but they can be reassured by diligent travel agents.
She said: “Holidays are what everybody looks forward to for the whole year – it’s their favourite part of the year. People with disabilities and families with children with disabilities should have that pleasure.”
She added: “I think with every booking there should be a simple question: ‘Does anybody within your party require special assistance’?
“People with disabilities or people who have children with disabilities will really appreciate that. It’s so heart-warming.”
She said help can usually be secured for clients by making a five-minute call to an airport or filling out a form.
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