I’ve always loved to travel. A couple of years ago I took six months off work to go travelling, and it is one of the best things I have ever done. I am disabled but I was still able to go scuba diving, wheelchair trekking, and even learned how to fly a plane!
But I did find the logistics of planning a trip with a wheelchair incredibly difficult at times. I’d arrive at accommodation that was advertised as accessible only to find it wasn’t, and I’d have to research hire cars that were specially adapted to fit my wheelchair at each new location.
I knew then that I wanted to start something that would make accessible travel easier and really enjoyable too.
More motivation came when I left my job and did an MBA. I quickly became interested in technology and how transformative it could be. Companies like Airbnb and Uber were not only changing the business landscape but they were transforming the way people travelled too. Yet time and again accessibility was overlooked.
More than 10 per cent of people in the UK have a mobility issue, but hotel booking sites often aren’t very good at providing accurate information about accessibility. They can be hard to trust, which in turn has made many people with a disability very nervous to travel.
So I decided to teach myself how to build websites, so I could start a company which makes accessible travel easy to book, good value and fun.
And so, last summer, Accomable was born. Since our launch the response has been brilliant. We work closely with everyone who books our accommodation to ensure they’re not only confident about their holiday, but really looking forward to it. We’ve also had a great response from customers who don’t have a mobility issue themselves but are booking holidays for family or friends, who have wheelchairs or require step-free access.
Our most popular destinations at the moment are the USA and Europe, particularly the UK, Spain and France. These are big destinations for UK travellers, with easy transport links, and great infrastructure for disabled tourists.
We also list properties that offer specialist equipment, like wheelchairs which have been adapted for the beach or countryside, and swimming pool hoists.
Every property has to back up an access claim with pictures. So if you say you have grab rails in the bathroom, you need to provide an image. Also, many of the properties are places I have stayed in, or a member of our team/community has recommended. We work with various tourism boards in Europe that have already vetted properties. And we’re also piloting a system where videos depicting access can be uploaded.
With Accomable, we’re changing the face of accessible accomodation. We want everyone who wants to travel to feel confident they can find somewhere to stay that works for them.
This story is part of the November 2016 issue of our free quarterly newsletter Open Door. Sign up for your free subscription!