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Supporting the Disabled Market by David Budgen

Cavendish Health Care /  Mobility at Sea / Rentascoota

Timeshare Weekly is pleased to introduce an expert in this field who can advise and support the timeshare Industry and hotel business and is very active also within the cruise Industry.

There is a massive growing market surprisingly not catered for by most Timeshare resorts and hotels. We believe that the holiday Industry is missing an opportunity to support the disabled through a misunderstanding that support requires a serious investment updating rooms and apartments.

This is a misconception and we believe the Industry is missing out on a huge growth opportunity. There are hundreds of thousands of disabled enquires per month on holidays. One website alone has more than 20,000 visitors a month reviewing there website for holiday opportunities.

If a resort or a hotel got this together and understood the opportunity then considers advertising with the right mediums this will start to help fill rooms and introduce new members and guests.

Timeshare Weekly has always advocated that more support is required for the less fortunate disabled holiday maker.

Timeshare Weekly is pleased to introduce an expert in this field who can advise and support the timeshare Industry and hotel business and is very active also within the cruise Industry.

Read this article and perhaps you will get a better understanding of the support that is required in this growing market. David provides some simple advice and provides a service that extends through to a number of  countries  worldwide. Dave Budgen is the co- founder of Cavendish Health Care and Mobility at Sea.

Can you please tell us a little about yourself and
your business.

I got into the scooter hire business because many elderly and disabled people were sold any old thing as opposed to the right scooter spec for their needs.

We started to hire scooters so they could try before they bought

Unexpectedly it revealed a niche in the market for people who wanted short, medium or long term hire for various reasons including recovery from illness or holidays or for those who could not afford to purchase outright. This in itself produced a logistics problem as it was obviously not cost effective to deliver scooters all around the country so using the interflora business model we invited well established and reputable local independent mobility shops to join the rent-a-scoota network. This gave us a larger coverage using business people with a similar ethos to provide quality equipment to those who needed it. Coming from a background of both direct sales and marketing this gave me the platform to deliver quality service at a sensible price for the consumer.

How big is the disabled market?

It is an ever increasing market as more people are living longer and retiring earlier. There is more disposable income and less people moving house so the quality of living is better and a higher percentage of older people are going on holiday more frequently. With the ever increasing product range and solutions for the less able traveler more are finding that with help they can travel more.

Do you think the timeshare and hotel industry are aware
of how they could support the disabled market.

I think that the hotel and Timeshare Industry has underestimated the size of the disabled market and are missing a real opportunity to provide a service to those less fortunate then ourselves and they are missing out on a sizable market place.

I believe it’s their perception that this will involve a large capital expenditure to redesign hotel and apartment rooms. This is not necessarily the case in an ideal world perhaps there should be some accommodation that would have walk in showers. The rest could be supported by us.

We can deliver and collect and install if necessary specified equipment and would be happy to support in any staff training if applicable.

This will prove to be an integral part of the booking process and will make opportunities for increased sales in the hotel industry. Making holidays and hotels more accessible will help to remove any stigmas currently demonstrated.

Key Tip

It may not be necessary for apartments to have wet rooms or walk in showers if that is not practicable. Rather than miss out on this market do you have the space to have an accessible stand alone private wet room for the disabled on each floor that involves no steps. As long as they have room to maneuver a wheelchair and take a shower this would be a benefit at any resort.

Do you think that legislation has gone far enough to
support the disabled market within the holiday industry?

Legislation has not really gone far enough in some instances, some less able bodied holiday makers may feel some constraints and some may argue that they should be given more free assistance however we believe that businesses are struggling and do not want to limit themselves as there is still a stigma regarding this market segmentation. In realistic terms there are more less able travelers these days than ever before so for those who target or at least consider this area will benefit greatly. 

There are timeshares that have an effective support and service in place. If you have a disability find out here why timeshare is right for you. Review our article on Disable friendly timeshare holidays.

For a disabled person what is the biggest challenge facing
them in the holiday industry today?

In our opinion the biggest challenge is the attitude of the holiday provider – will they go the extra mile to provide comfort and support? In some instances the cost of holiday insurance for preconditioned clients can be prohibitive.

Tell us a little more about the cruise industry and your
companies involvement in this?

Mobility at Sea - delivering mobility solutions to cruise ship

When we first launched the Rent-a-Scoota Network,  the number of the enquiries escalated for the cruise ships, the demand was originally for scooters and power chairs but quickly developed to clients requiring different equipment as the loan equipment provided by the ships were either dated or just not specific enough. We introduced Mobility at Sea to meet this demand and have extended the range of products available.

Over the past few years we have built very good relationships with the cruise providers and passengers out of the Ports of Southampton. As we have been providing mobility products for hire on the ships we took it upon ourselves to understand the needs of all parties concerned to ensure that products are compliant and of benefit to the clients. Feedback received from the clients indicated that the equipment that had been provided for them on the ships were increasingly dated and didn’t really meet their needs, so we introduced a selection of equipment that was in our opinion would be better suited. This equipment proved very popular and successful so we approached the providers and explained that their clients are happy to hire newer more specific equipment, this coupled with the charges in procedures on board resulted in the changes. We are now promoted and recognised as the preferred suppliers of disabled equipment for P&O, Cunard, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and many more…. More people are finding it harder to fly and a higher % are deciding to cruise, in addition to the introduction of taster cruises. Find out more about our cruise support.

Who would pay for these services?

This is the businesses choice, they can pay and obviously charge their guest accordingly but in that instance we would have to charge the business VAT on any charges or the guest can book direct with us – that way we would be able to carry out a more precise assessment of their needs (increasing the service level) and we would ask them to complete a vat exemption form saving them some money. Either way is acceptable and we could tailor the process to suit the individual business. Providing this service means that the hotels do not have to carry stock, nor do they have the hassle and responsibility of cleaning and maintaining the products. If the hotels held any of their own equipment then they would have to store the equipment properly and carry out assessments of the clients to ensure suitability.

How do you feel that your company could support the
holiday industry with disable mobility services?

My business partner and I have had many  years of experience in the Industry at the cutting edge and that’s face to face with our clients. We understand their needs. We continually research to ensure that we have the very best products available, this doesn’t mean that they are the most expensive either – our team researches products prior to hiring them out and then requests feedback to ensure that the products meet our expectations. We collate the wants and wish lists of our clients to ensure that there is a sustainable demand before we source products and the evaluation process is lengthy and meaningful.  We can assist all venues with being able to extend the services they offer without the costs involved in research, sourcing, purchasing, staff training, delivery, installation, cleaning, storing, aftercare and evaluation let alone the constant changes in legislation. We had to undergo a sever accreditation with the cruise providers Carnival UK and Royal Caribbean with health and safety. As these are cruise liners that travels the world they wanted to be sure they chose a company that could support their needs.

In addition to the above we also have to ensure that the equipment is always in its optimum condition as especially with cruises we may not be able of offer physical assistance should anything go wrong… contingencies are always crucial.

We also have a national network of independent mobility agents that can support our “mission”.

How would it work if a hotel or timeshare resort wished to
take advantage of your advice or services?

We would merely require a telephone call or email, we would discuss the hotel or venues requirements and explain the product list available to hire in that area. We could visit the hotel if necessary and cost effective. It would be in both of our interests to ascertain the level of service they require and agree a way forward – in terms of whether they require the clients to contact us direct or whether they would want a mark up on the hires this way this could be an income stream but does have its negative side as previously stated. Hotels and venues can join out network of approved accessible venues and may want to take advantage of our comprehensive and informative websites.

What differentiates your service from the competitors?

Like most companies we have a desire to help our clients but we consider everyone our clients. We want to enhance other business’s and to ensure that our clients are taken care of whether home or away. We constantly look for ways to improve our services and have a Group of companies to ensure that every eventuality is covered. We are the only approved suppliers of many of the cruise ships and therefore are able to offer a total and controlled service.

What are your companies strengths?

We have a passion for this industry and strive to offer the very best for all our clients. We are forward thinking and innovative but have our feet firmly on the floor. We have employees that have the same ethos who care about the industry and who always go the extra mile for customers. We are open-minded and value the views of others. We are solution finders and determined. Our engineering team who maintains the hire fleet are highly qualified and can adapt most things to suit most people. Our marketing and sales team is time served and come from a variety of backgrounds to ensure that many avenues are covered. Accounts department ensure that all our finances are dealt with in the most effective way. Our management tier is qualified and experienced with over 75 years of combined experience. All our team is energetic, enthusiastic and they genuinely care.

Waterlooville showroom

How would it work if a hotel or timeshare resort wished to
take advantage of your advice or services?

As we mentioned earlier, we have a simple system that allows businesses or clients to contact us direct or order online. We will confirm this and deliver the product and collect. I am only an email away for advice and if I am not available than an experienced  staff member can assist blah blah

Have you come across any unusual supportive products that
would support the traveling disabled market

Pack-a-scoota is a scooter in a suitcase! This is ideal for all modes of transport especially flying as it is well protected, a problem which has been in the past as scooters get damaged in the haul of the plane and the client may be without it or spending 2-3 days in a hotel waiting for repairs. This again fits conveniently in the boot of a car as its the size of a small suit case. Once we had seen the original pack-a-scoota we offered our recommendations to the manufacturer and they are now producing a newer version that is even better. We have a very good relationship with all of our suppliers and if we can get something adapted to suit the market place we devise it ourselves ! – this is the next chapter.

How do you see the future for both your companies Cavandish
and Mobility at sea?

The opportunities are endless, for all concerned through Cavendish. I see us assisting and educating timeshare resorts and hotels on how they can assist the disabled holiday market and simple this can be. This is a massive opportunity for the holiday company that embraces this opportunity in a growing market place.

Torquay showroom

With our sister company Mobility at Sea we can ensure that more passengers can cruise comfortably more often. More cabins can become accessible. The Port Operations and logistics offer a smoother transaction. Travel Agents can book with confidence.

Mobility at Sea is looking to develop and offer the extended services from ports in the UK and overseas, in addition to supplying other segments of the travel and holiday industry. An exciting time for all.

Authors Comments

This is without a doubt a massive market and one that the holiday Industry should gear up to ensure it supports it's existing disabled clientele effectively and makes the right approaches to seek out new members who would benefit from spacious apartments. 

One website receives around 20,000 enquires a month from disabled folk enquiring about disable friendly holidays. 

As David has said the Industry in general has a misunderstanding that disable friendly support requires a serious investment updating rooms and apartments. This is not the case and each resort should investigate this opportunity.