Don’t sign up for “a three-hour tour” until you know who you’re dealing with!

Don’t sign up for “a three-hour tour” until you know who you’re dealing with!
Photo by: Let Ideas Compete (Flickr)

Howdy, all! This is just a brief note from Disabled Travelers to give you some new tools for finding your next tour operator or travel agent. As our loyal readers know, there are literally hundreds of tour operators out there who provide customized itineraries full of accessible attractions, wheelchair accessible hotels, and private tours in world-class cities around the globe. And this is a good thing! But I, your humble narrator, can’t claim to have met and worked with even a fraction of the business owners and agents we talk about on our blog. So, what to do to make sure your experience is top quality?

It’s important to seek out multiple sources whenever you’re dealing with an unfamiliar agent or tour operator. We try to pass along the warnings we do get, but that’s only a start; do a Google search, explore internet forums, and ask your friends who are avid travelers. A quick search with the name of the proprietor, the name of the agency, or the principal destination plus the word “scam” will usually yield some immediate info if you’re not sure. Also ask yourself some basic questions, such as …

1) Does the company website look as professional as I would expect if I visited a storefront, office, or other “brick and mortar” environment?

2) Does the website provide a physical address? A tool like “Google Street View” will let you determine if this is a “real” office, someone’s home, or a building used by multiple businesses so they can claim a street address! Some firms that claim to be located at “Suite” so-and-so actually only have a cubbyhole for mail delivery.

3) Are you able to reach someone at the location by phone? Are they professional and courteous? Can they discuss accommodations for handicapped travelers “on the fly” and answer all of your questions confidently and competently? Once you have someone on the phone, it’s a good sign, but don’t forget to ask how long they’ve been in business, how many customers they serve, and how often they go to your proposed destination.

4) Is the payment plan simple and easy to understand? Beware of complex plans and fees that seem to go up and up as the date of travel approaches. Established businesses have clear, easily understood payment policies – and privacy policies, too!

Something else I wanted to point out today was the Accessible Travel certification offered by The Travel Institute and designed by the Director of Education for the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality. SATH is a reputable and established international handicapped organization, so for my buck, any certification they have input on is a good bet; I’d consider it a plus if your tour operator has it. As far as I know, this is the only international certification of its kind, and hopefully it’ll turn out to be a real value-adder that grows the community of accessible travel professionals.

Hope that helps shed some light on the sometimes tricky topic of finding the right people to help with your travel plans. That’s all from Disabled Travelers – see you next time, and adventure on!


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