According to the NY Times, New Year’s Day, 2011 marked the beginning of the surge of Baby Boomers turning 65 with an estimated 10,000 boomers celebrating their 65th birthday every day. What does this mean to someone who specializes in travel for the disabled & mature? Regarding the “mature” part of that niche, we are not apt to run out of potential clients any time soon especially considering the fact that todays senior citizen is more active and more adventurous than ever before. The real area of expertise, the ability to provide appropriate travel arrangements for persons with disabilities, will be just as well served by the aging of America. As people age they begin to acquire more and more disabling conditions whether it be from the progression of arthritis, side effects of diabetes, knee and hip replacements, strokes, heart disease, etc. and these people, used to leading very active lives, are not going to give in to what they will merely consider inconveniences.
I say, “Good For Them”! There is no reason that getting around at a slower pace or the need to use a mobility aid (wheelchair, walker, scooter, cane) should cause people to give up their dream of spending their retirement years traveling the world. Travel Agents who have carved out a niche serving the needs of disabled persons will be able to educate the newly disabled on how to travel and will inform them about the ever increasing number of accessible destinations around the world as well as turning them on to the ease of cruising. Today’s cruise ships provide some of the most accessible vacations possible combined with the added security of knowing there is always expert medical care available in case of an emergency.
So, I see a big need to get the word out to the baby boomer generation that there are travel agents who are better equipped to help them with their special needs if that time arises. I am constantly amazed at how many people are totally surprised when I tell them what I do. The typical response is, “I never knew there was such a specialty”. I’m sure the powerful combination of Facebook, Twitter and Blogging will help spread the word very quickly. Of course the true goal is to make the tourist industry inclusive, accessible for all, so that special arrangements won’t have to be made for people with special needs. Unfortunately, while I see that as a real possibility in the future, it will be a long time before true access for everyone is a reality.
Morne Maritz says
Great report! My family owns a mobility rental business in Las Vegas and our business has expanded drastically over the past five years. Unfortunately, the majority of the hotels and convention centers that we deal with still don’t really want to accept the fact that many of their guests and attendees require mobility assistance.
Our service is still one of the few under the table services in Las Vegas. At most hotels, the front services managers take kickbacks for referrals. We have tried repeatedly to speak to purchasing (Senior Management level) about the need to for proper equipment and service, but at most Las Vegas hotels the needs of the visitors who require mobility equipment are secondary to the needs of the hotel staff to earn huge kickbacks on the rental of mobility equipment. This often leads to poor service and over inflated pricing.
One notable exception is the fact that many of the Caesars Entertainment properties (Harrahs, Bally’s, Paris, Planet Hollywood and Imperial Palace) actually allow guests to rent mobility equipment using their casino rewards points. It appears as though these hotels have woken up to the fact that a significant percentage of their customer base is mobility challenged. Ironically, Caesars Palace is the one exception to this rule.
You are so right in all you say, INCLUSION FOR ALL, is our mantra…the Special Needs Community is an all encompassing group:-) Great article! AngelWishes to you:-)
Thank you….I appreciate your input!