As the U.S. population ages, travel agents will find themselves accommodating more clients who are disabled or have trouble walking. Some may need wheelchairs or motorized scooters when they arrive in far-off destinations.
Fort Lauderdale-based Special Needs Group recently launched an online booking system to make wheelchair and scooter rental easier for agents -- and allowing them to earn a commission when clients make their own online reservations.
“Agents and their clients can do it all online now,” said Cheree Liebowitz, Special Needs’ director of marketing. “Agents who are registered in our agent commission program can make reservations and put links on their websites to our booking system. Clients can order the equipment directly and the agent then earns commission.”
Since its founding in 2007, Special Needs Group has grown to accommodate travelers in 55 cities -- mostly port cities -- in 20 countries. All the major cruise lines work with the company, Liebowitz said. For now, cruises are the focus of the online booking tool.
“An agent or cruise passenger puts in their information in our booking system, including the embarkation city, their height and weight, the equipment they need and then make the booking,” Liebowitz said. “We send a confirmation and a contract outlining the details and payment information. We deliver the equipment directly to the stateroom.”
The booking tool enables agents to choose from a variety of wheelchairs and scooters accommodating travelers weighing up to 500 pounds.
The online booking service is available to travel agents registered with Special Needs Group's Agent Affiliate Program. The program offers free registration and provides agents with a 10% commission. To register, log on to www.specialneedsatsea.com
and click on the "Agents" tab.
Special Needs Group plans to expand the booking tool to more types of specialty equipment, such as oxygen and visual and hearing-impaired aides. Until then, agents and travelers can request quotes by calling (800) 513-4515. Agents and travelers can also rent equipment for delivery to hotels, resorts, convention centers, theme parks, airports and other locations by calling the toll-free number or (954) 585-0575.