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Published by Sara Napier Burkhard | May 25, 2017 | | 3 MIN READ

Practical ways to adapt your tours for disabled travelers

The joys of traveling should be accessible to anyone. It is one of life’s most enriching experiences. It helps us to experience something new that expands the way we view the world around us, and it could ultimately shape the way we live.

But not everyone can travel the same way. There is a lot that goes into planning a trip, tour or activity and for some, there are additional factors to consider. Every person has a different ability level, and there should be options to make it possible for all of us to share in the beautiful experiences that come with travel.

Here are some tips to help you adapt your tours into safer, more enjoyable experiences for travelers of all abilities.

Kayaking tour 

 

1. Offer special accommodations

Customers may face a variety of disabilities that make some of the activities associated with traveling more difficult. It’s important to think about how to keep your customers comfortable and safe during their tour with you. Depending on the type of tour or activity, some will apply more than others but here are a few accommodations your business should always offer:

  • Wheelchair access - If your activity takes place inside of a building, offer ramps and ensure the spaces are large enough for guests using wheelchairs to pass comfortably. For activities involving a pool, make sure you offer a safe option into the body of water, such as a lift and safety handles. Once again, make sure you are following the legal requirements for your tourism business, especially if you’re offering an activity that takes place inside of a building.
  • Allow service animals - While bringing a pet along to an extreme sporting activity can be impractical or even dangerous, for more standard travel, a service animal should always be welcome. Note: if you are unsure of the risks associated in your area or for your tour type, it would be best to get in touch with your local tourism board about safety and health requirements.
  • Options for the visually impaired - In our article about the importance of translating your tours, we discussed some of the ways to offer them with the help of an audio device. You can do something similar here for the visually impaired, offering them an option to experience the tour and enjoy the location.

 

Read: How to know when it's time to translate your tour and website content

 

2. Make first aid your company's priority

As the guide and local of the area, it is your responsibility to ensure your customers are safe and looked after. This includes planning ahead in the event of an emergency. For the sake of all your guests you should:

  • First and foremost, have a plan in place for medical emergencies.
  • Know the quickest routes to the hospital.
  • Learn of any pre-existing conditions or medical requirements your guests may have.
  • Carry a fully stocked first aid kit. Make sure it is routinely updated.
  • Train your entire staff in CPR and other life-saving tactics.
  • Depending on how extreme your activity is, bring a licensed medical professional on each trip.

3. Learn the laws in your area

Many tour and activity companies are built upon passion and talent but along with the fun, there should also be the right precautions taken to make sure every guest has the best experience. A large part of this is looking into the requirements in your area. This can be especially important if you offer a tour that moves to several locations, over any country, state, or county boarders. The laws might be different, depending on the state or country your tour is operating in.

TrekkSoft customer Bus2Alps would be a good example of a company with unique location circumstances. Based in Italy, they operate in multiple locations throughout Europe, offering sightseeing tours to customers from all over the world. The requirements for companies like these could be different than the requirements for a company like Segway City Tours Belgium, which keeps operations within the same city.

If the activity is more extreme, you will always need to have customers sign waivers that acknowledge the risks associated. Make sure that special circumstances like these are being considered as you draft up your legal papers. Regardless of how simple your tour schedule is, it is important to know if there are any requirements or regulations you might not otherwise know about.

4. Consider offering special tours

If you can't offer an all-inclusive experience with your standard routes, consider creating an alternative tour that better accommodates all ability levels. For more strenuous tours, build one with a modified pace. This would not only be convenient for travelers with disabilities, it would cater to any newcomers to your activity.

Understand that some activities will be too strenuous or hard to modify. For these, rather than a regularly scheduled tour, give customers the option to book an individual session. This one-on-one or smaller group session could be built to the pace of the customer.

City tour

It might seem like a lot of changes to make, but the good news is that you don’t have to do it all at once. These are steps that you can slowly implement and build upon. The most important place to start is by thinking about your existing customer base and what could make their experiences with your company safer and more enjoyable.

Soon you’ll find that there are a number of ways to adapt your tours for every customer. And each one is achievable.

Looking for more information about travelers?

Read our 2018 Travel Trends report, updated with this year’s most important behaviors and interests in a variety of markets.

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Sara Napier Burkhard
Published by Sara Napier Burkhard
Sara is a writer from the American West Coast. In recent years, she's written for companies like Hipmunk, iTourMobile and Mylikes. She now resides in Zurich, Switzerland where she finds new adventures and attempts to speak German with minimal success.
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