Becky Kirby, The Greater Go

Becky Kirby came from the world of non-profits, working in disability services and non-profit management. Her career took a turn when her family decided to give the gift of travel for her sister’s 40th birthday. The problem was, born with spinda bifida, Becky’s sister uses a power wheelchair and Becky couldn’t find an agency to assist her sister. So naturally, she started her own.

At first aiming to focus only on travelers with disabilities, Becky shares why she expanded to booking travel for people of all abilities, as well as plenty of tips on how to qualify clients with disabilities and language to help you feel more comfortable assisting clients with special needs.

As she puts it, she doesn’t want to be the go-to agency for people with disabilities. She wants to be the agency that books travel for travelers of all abilities. Get inspired as you hear about her take on corporate responsibility and giving back.

With 1 in 4 Americans having some type of disability, as well as the 75 million Americans in the Boomer generation aging, being comfortable helping travelers with disabilities is something every agent should have on their radar.

So get those headphones adjusted, grab a spot in a cozy chair, and get ready to learn some great resources and tips for booking accessible travel!

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Show Notes

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1. The Negative Space: A wonderful website for caregivers from all walks of life.

2. Becky's Website: Travel tips for clients with service animals, who have wheelchairs, who need oxygen, or are hearing impaired.

3. HAR's Diversity Webinar: The last in a series of 3 webinars (Listen. Learn. Act.) HAR did on diversity. Great for tips on how to make your agency more inclusive and supportive of the Black community.

4. Special Needs at Sea: A company that provides mobility aids, like scooters or wheelchairs, or oxygen and other medical supply rentals to travelers. They also have a accessible travel certification Becky recommends.

5. Travelability Conference: A new conference bringing together people passionate about accessible travel. Becky went and highly recommended. It's also a great site to find more resources like vendors, blogs and thought leaders to follow in the space. Use code TAS200 to save $200 off the VIP pass.

6. Austism on the Seas: Vacations for adults and families with Autism, Down Syndrome and related diseases.

7. Wheelchairtravel.org: A great blog for information on accessible travel. The founder is in a motorized wheelchair and travels 200 some odd days a year.

8. Accessibletravelsolutions.com: A supplier that offers accessible transfers, escorted tours, shore excursions and FITs in more than 45 countries.

9. HAR's Event Calendar: Make sure you check it out or sign up for our newsletter to be notified about the accessibility webinar Becky and Steph started planning during this episode!

10. HAR's Hiring!: Applications close May 5th at 5pm CT for our Community Growth Specialist position!

Transcription

Steph: [00:00:13] You're listening to Travel Agent Chatter, volume 19. Travel Agent Chatter is an audio series produced by the team here at Host Agency Reviews every quarter. I am Steph Lee, the founder of HAR and your host for today's show.

Today's episode, we'll be talking with an agent that comes from the nonprofit world.

So how does that translate over to travel? Well, we're going to hear about how she started a non-profit foundation to give back to the community. And we're going to hear loads of travel tips and actionable items that will make your agency more welcoming to travelers with special needs and help you be better equipped to book accessibility travel.

So stay tuned to hear some qualifying questions that you can ask your clients that are traveling with wheelchairs, as well as some travel tips for your travelers with hearing impairments, those with service dogs and those with oxygen.

So we've got a ton of great info for you today. And if you are a super fan of HAR, make sure to stick around to the end because we are hiring.

So let's get onto the show.

Intro

Hello, hello everybody! I have missed you!

How the heck have you been? I am super excited because I eeeked out the last episode of Travel Agent Chatter about a month ago, and I'm already putting out quarter two's Travel Agent Chatter episode. I'm way ahead of myself already this year.

It is downright fabulous to be here with you today. The tulips that are blooming here in Minnesota, and I have been tulip stalking around the neighborhood. It's a part-time hobby of mine, as well as podcasting.

So we have a great show ahead for you today. It's with an agency unlike any we've interviewed so far. And there are lots of things about this agency that are really close to my heart. So today's guest is Becky Kirby, the owner of The Greater Go travel agency based out of Indianapolis, Indiana.

And what about her agency is so close to my heart? So she has a really strong give back component to her company, which is also something that we do at Host Agency Reviews. And we'll also be talking loads about how you can become a better travel advisor for your clients with disabilities.

And if you're nervous about how to work with clients with disabilities, this is— that is perfectly okay. This is a great time for you to learn. I promise that this podcast will have you feeling a lot more comfortable about accessible travel when we're done.

So go ahead, kick up those heels and sharpen those pencils, kiddos, because there's going to be a lot of concrete, actionable items for you to take away with this episode.

And just a quick reminder that Travel Agent Chatter is available on all sorts of different formats. You can watch a video of it on YouTube— which my dogs often make an appearance, so if you want to see Fennec Orion, I can't promise anything, but it's very likely there'll be in the frame sometime— you can also go ahead and subscribe and listen on your favorite podcast platform.

Or if you just want to sit in front of your computer screen for longer, because you just haven't had enough and you want to read the whole darn transcript, you can do that too. So you can find that beautifully long transcript and find a link to today's show notes by going to HostAgencyReviews.com/TAC and clicking on episode 19.

Now— I hear Orion, he's coming in.

Now, today's schedule, we'll be breaking things down into five segments. So we'll start off with beginnings. We'll move into inclusiveness and giving back. Next up, we'll go into wheelchairs 101, accessibility travel tips, and then we'll wrap it up with our warm fuzzy segment.

So let us wait no longer. I am dying with ex— with, not expense— with suspense and Becky, I can see that you are too. So let me go ahead and bring you up.


Becky Kirby, Accessible Travel
The fabulous Becky Kirby, owner of travel agency and foundation, The Greater Go.

Beginnings

Becky, welcome to Travel Agent Chatter. How are you?

Becky: [00:04:23] Thank you. I'm doing great this morning.

Steph: [00:04:26] Oh, good. Good. We are, we are doing an early morning recording here, at least early for me.

Becky: [00:04:31] And my dog may be making an appearance as well. So we'll see how that goes.

Steph: [00:04:36] Well, I actually have to tell everyone, so my newest thing, because Orion's a puppy, we just got him about a month and a half ago. And he has a habit of whenever he hears me being on, on a webinar, recording anything, he loves to come up and get on the camera and jump on me and do all sorts of things, and like attack Fennec.

So I have this— you can hear it [noise], the multigrain box, multigrain Cheerios box. And whenever they start getting too wild, when I'm on a call or something, I stick my hand in it, throw it over my shoulder, and then they start chasing them and it calms them down. So that's, your tidbit for the day!

Becky: [00:05:18] I like it.

Steph: [00:05:19] You should really try it. It's fantastic.

Well, it is great because we have been emailing back and forth about the show for, I think something like a year and a half and it is so good to finally have you here.

I love being here, I'm excited too, Steph.

TAC 19: Sean in Ship Library
Sean in the ship library out to score 1,778 points in Scrabble with the single word, "Oxyphenbutazone."

And I want to give everyone a little background on how Becky and I know each other because it's actually— we actually didn't meet through our travel connections, we met through our mutual friends, Allison and Sean. And I like to say that they're in my sick friend circle, meaning that they or their partners are facing kind of the challenges of living with a chronic or terminal illness. It's pretty easy to bond with others who have had their lives upended by health issues.

So since getting sick, I have a very elite circle of friends that I call my sick friends.

And Alison, do you remember-- or Becky— do you remember how Alison introduced us? I just remember we met up?

Becky: [00:06:19] I do

Steph: [00:06:19] I just remember we met up at a conference. Okay. Yeah. How did that happen?

Becky: [00:06:21] Yes, we were at the travel conference in Las Vegas and I must have been— I think I had posted some things, like Facebook or Instagram or something that I was at this conference. And she texted me and said, I think my really good friend Steph is at the same conference. And then I think she connected us via text message and we met up and had lunch, I think. Or at least we met around lunchtime and the rest is history, right?

Steph: [00:06:49] Yeah it was! I was like, this is so random. Of course, Alison would be connecting us.

Becky: [00:06:55] I know.

Steph: [00:06:56] So by the way, if anyone listening is a caregiver, Alison has an amazing website calledThe Negative Space where she writes beautifully about the importance of, and the challenges of being a caregiver. And, if you're a caregiver, you know that it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself and it can be easy for people to overlook you and your needs when the person that you're caring for has so many issues. At any rate, she is a great advocate for caregivers. And if that resonates with all of you, I'll link to her website in the show notes, and you can check it out later.

So enough plugs about Allison's website. Becky, we've got a lot to talk about today when it comes to accessibility travel. But first, let's talk about your background because I think your background and the focus of your agency are so intertwined.

So my first question is, before travel, your background was in nonprofits. Tell us a little bit more about that. What work you did there.

Becky: [00:07:59] Yeah. So I have a bachelor's degree in social work and a master's degree in nonprofit management. And I've always leaned towards, intended to work with disability service type organizations, because that's my family experience and it's what I know.

And I managed a disability services nonprofit for about six years. That's probably my main gig in the professional world. And then after that, I went out and started consulting with non-profit organizations, mid to small-sized nonprofits, doing management consulting, strategic planning. That sort of thing.

So nothing ever related to travel. So it was a bit of a fluky thing that I started a travel agency. But yeah, so that's my background. And I also like to say that, that experience really translated well into running a business. Because running a nonprofit requires all the same skills that are required to run a business, except your business looks at profit a little bit differently.

Steph: [00:09:07] Well, you have this background of working with people with disabilities, but that wasn't really the impetus for starting The Greater Go. What planted that seed for a travel agency that makes travel available to people of all abilities and needs?

Becky: [00:09:25] I have a sister who has Spina Bifida, which is a pretty significant physical disability. And when she was getting ready to turn 40, my family was trying to figure out a way for us to collect money as gifts from other family members to send she and her husband on a trip of some sort. And then we thought, well, we need somebody to plan that trip for them. She's in a pretty large motorized wheelchair and had some needs that are just outside of the normal scope of being easy to travel.

Steph: [00:09:57] Yeah.

TAC 19_3
Planning a dream trip for her sister, Laura (left), is what inspired Becky (right) to start her travel business.

Becky: [00:09:57] So I just started to do some online research for any travel companies that would customize a trip for someone like my sister. And after a couple of days, I really couldn't find much that met— that I felt would have met her needs. So being the crazy and apparently entrepreneurial spirited person that I am, I thought, well, if nobody's doing this, surely, there's a need for it. Somebody should be doing it. And thus, after a little bit more time, The Greater Go was born.

Steph: [00:10:32] Yes, that's fantastic. And it's, really a perfect background for starting a travel agency with special needs. But I know that for you, after some research, in some real-life experiences, you tossed things up a bit.

And it, it seems like, I think, accessibility travel as your only niche would be a great niche. But why did you decide to expand the niche beyond travelers with disability?

Becky: [00:11:01] I think because of their reality of travel, travel for people with disabilities, or even special healthcare needs. The numbers of people who do travel when they have an extra need are actually pretty low.

It's a very— think about all of us. When you and I travel or our typical clients travel, it can be stressful. It's usually fast-paced. You're trying to get places. There's lots of things that can go wrong. And then if you add in any kind of mobility issue or significant health issue, then that just adds on top.

And I think a lot of people find that the hassle is not worth the reward. And so when I started the agency, yes, my outset was, I'm just going to do custom travel for people with disabilities and quickly found that there weren't that many eager people with disabilities out there willing to travel. And so I thought, gosh, I need to make money.

Steph: [00:12:05] Yeah. You want to be successful. This is not a nonprofit. We need to make money.

Becky: [00:12:09] There's a bottom line there. And then my thought process really was, I wonder if I did travel for everybody, therefore making me some money, and could somehow bring them into the fold of helping to make travel more accessible so that more people with special needs did travel. That was my, that was in my head as what I was trying to accomplish.

And so I did expand the travel agency, added agents, et cetera, et cetera, and then started a nonprofit affiliated with our agency. And we advocate, we try to advocate— and I would say we're limited right now in our ability to do that financially— but the goal is to be really good advocates for more accessible travel, making it easier for people who have special needs to travel.

And initially, some of the ideas were: let's get travelers to collect information from the destinations that they go to so they can take part in this. And we've had some barriers around that but that was definitely the idea around trying to have a community of people who could get behind this idea of, just making travel accessible to everyone was the whole idea.

Steph: [00:13:29] Well, maybe you can talk a little bit about the barriers that you ran across when your original vision included having your clients with disabilities report back on where they were. Why, why wasn't that scalable, or doable?

Becky: [00:13:45] I think, because— I think really, and this, I know this already from being in the disabilities world— because it's so individualized, something that's accessible to one person isn't necessarily accessible to another. And so what I found was, even people who travel who did have special needs, if they reported back, did a blog, took photos, let's say filled out a survey. For example, we had created a couple of surveys. But that person's view of accessibility for them is just very different than the next person's.

And so it just, it becomes very hard to collect any kind of standardized information that's really helpful. We have information, especially the US is good at this with the Americans with Disabilities Act and all the requirements that hotels and transportation and those kinds of things have to offer.

But that doesn't— that's not inclusive of everyone's needs. And so it just— I think it gets really difficult to determine what is quote, unquote accessible.

TAC 19_2


Steph: [00:14:52] Yes, I think you're exactly right. I think a lot of times when people think of someone, say, being in a wheelchair, they think everyone in a wheelchair has the exact same limitations. But that something that I learned when I had to be in a wheelchair is depending on what my issues are for the day that I'm in a wheelchair like sometimes I need a power wheelchair because I'm just too weak to walk and my arms aren't working well.

And sometimes I just need a transport chair cause I can't walk for long distances. So it's— that's a great thing to, to talk about the nuances of disabilities.


Inclusiveness and Giving Back

Well, let's switch gears and talk a little bit more about how The Greater Go gives back and has a special aim to be inclusive. So I've I've seen companies that have given a portion of their profits back to the community, us included at Host Agency Reviews, but yours is the first agency I've run across.

It has a nonprofit tied to it. So you talked a little bit earlier about this foundation you created, The Greater Go. Can you tell us a little bit, like what, what funds it, where does the money come from? And yeah, tell us a little bit more about the workings of it.

Becky: [00:16:15] So right now it's pretty simple.

Right now we take as an agency, 10% of our— not net profits even— 10% of any commission that we earn. So basically you book a trip with us, we earn commission on it. We take 10% of that commission amount and put it into the nonprofit.

That's how it's solely funded right now, which means it's a slow trickle-in. Especially from the last year or so...

Steph: [00:16:45] You haven't been going gangbusters last year? What's wrong with you?!

Becky: [00:16:50] So we have used some of that money. Well, just let me back up too. We also send, when someone books a trip with us, we always send them a travel packet still through the regular mail. And we have a card in there that says that X number of dollars— just by booking a trip with The Greater Go, X number of dollars has been donated to The Greater Go Foundation, that advocates for more accessible travel for everyone really.

And we've done some things with that. Like I said, our budget's pretty low right now, but we have been able to put together some fact sheets that are on our website for various disabilities. Tips for flying with service animals... a few different tips sheets like that we've been able to do.

We've actually done some research on, are there any other information gathering sites like a TripAdvisor for accessibility? And there are some people that are doing blogs and things like that. So we collected that information in an effort to not duplicate anything. But to also look at who we might want to partner with.

 And we've attended this TravelAbility summit. I attended a couple of years ago, which was really eye-opening and it was a first event for the organization. And it was really, really well done. I made some great connections. So those are the kinds of things that we're doing with the foundation now. I, of course, have much higher hopes of eventually having a staff person working there and being able to go out and solicit funds from other donors or grant funds and things like that. Because of course, that's my background too.

I know how we need to do those things to have this organization functioning more strongly. But right now we're doing what we can with our limited resources, but we are still putting a percentage of our commissions into that foundation to do what we can.

Steph: [00:18:57] And, it's worth mentioning that you have a network of ICs, this small network of ICs, and every single one of those have signed on, and part of signing on is also giving 10% of their commission. So they're very on board with your mission.

TAC 19: Holly Fossum in Vancouver
Holly beaming in Vancouver.

Becky: [00:19:12] They are. And I think for some of them, that's why they're doing it through me. They could do it on their own. And we know ICs, a lot of them they can book through whomever or sometimes they'll start up their own. And I think, not only am I providing some of the business platform, that's helpful, but they like to be able to tell their clients we're giving back and "We need more of those cards to send out in the mail. We want to make sure our clients that are starting to look again know what we're doing."

And so I really appreciate that. It also makes me a little, I think, a little bit more selective about my agents too, which I think I can be.

Steph: [00:19:52] Yeah. Well, were there any companies— cause that that reminds me of when you purchase certain things. For instance, some dog treats the other day, like the Newman's Own company, how he has the foundation that he set up to give back.

So were there any companies that you used as inspiration when setting up your agency's give back component?

Becky: [00:20:13] I would say not necessarily ones that I used all the time before, but as examples the endangered species chocolate I feel like --

Steph: [00:20:25] I'm very familiar.

Yeah. That's a big thing.

Becky: [00:20:29] And then I know there's a-- I forget which sock company if it's Bombas or which one—that you buy a pair of socks and then they send a pair of socks to somewhere else or someone in need. And I just liked that component. There's even— there's a winery here. I'm a big wine lover and there's a winery here. And all of their tip money goes towards different non-profit organizations.

And so I just think that idea makes me, as a consumer, more likely to go to that place, or purchase that item. And my thought process behind that was people tend to have giving hearts and they're not actually giving anything extra. They're just paying for their trip. We're doing the giving.

And so I think for some people, it just makes sense. Why not? Why wouldn't I book with a company that has this give back component?

Steph: [00:21:27] No, absolutely. Well, I have to tell you that I started. Looking at doing a nonprofit scholarship at HAR last year. And when I started dipping my toes into it, I was completely intimidated. So you've got the background in nonprofits and have a huge leg up on the rest of us when it comes to it. But I'm wondering for anyone that's listening, is it hard to start? Was I just like easily...

Becky: [00:22:01] Put off?

Steph: [00:22:01] Yeah. Am I easily intimidated or what would you—

Becky: [00:22:05] I think it, definitely helps that my back— like some of the consulting work that I did was doing, helping organizations start up.

So for someone like me, it's not that intimidating, but I also know the resources and where to go and how to do that. You obviously have to get an IRS status and those kinds of things. But what I always encourage people to, when you're thinking about starting up nonprofits, is make sure there's not somebody already doing what you want to do.

Because sometimes it's much better and much easier to partner than to try and start something on your own. But yeah, I think, it can be intimidating. But I have that knowledge base so it wasn't— it was a no brainer for me, honestly.

Steph: [00:22:53] Yeah. That makes sense.

Becky: [00:22:55] And there wasn't anybody that, I could find that was already doing it. I guess I should say that too. Cause I couldn't find another organization that I could just donate to. Cause obviously that would have been the easiest path. Just find a good travel advocacy organization to donate to. And I really couldn't find that. So here we are.

Steph: [00:23:17] Yeah. That's great feedback so thank you. And I know things are challenging right now with most travel agencies. They're struggling to even keep their doors open, but I think it's a good time for everyone to press reset and agencies actually have the time to look at their processes and look at their structures.

So it might just be the perfect time to think about how you can use your company, when it starts getting off the ground again, to give back to the communities that are supporting us. And speaking of communities, I did want to talk about the diversity amongst communities.

So last year we did a topic— yeah, we did a topic on diversity and how important it was to make a concerted effort to have racial diversity on your website and in your marketing materials. And I'll link to that in the show notes. And as a multiracial person, I can tell you just like how you like to shop at places that give back.

And I always warms my heart when I see like a multi-racial person or an Asian person in advertising. And I, very much am aware of the fact that the number of multiracial people in the U S let alone half Asian is in the very single low digit. So I don't go around expecting to see people that look like me very often.

But, I do have to say that it just feels really nice when I see an advertisement. I'm like, "Oh my God, they have black hair like me!"

The reason I'm bringing this up is that I think it's, easy to think about like the diversity and just think about race or gender, but it's about more than that.

It's also about people with different abilities. So Becky, you do a really amazing job on your website to make it welcoming and inclusive to travelers of all abilities. So kudos on that.

Becky: [00:25:23] Thank you.

Steph: [00:25:24] Yeah. And I think for travel advisors that don't often work with travelers with disabilities, it can be a daunting and scary thing. There's the fear that they might say something offensive or will there will their potential client be upset if they say handicapped or is disabled the right word, or do they say special needs?

So we talked earlier about how it's a spectrum. There isn't, like, everyone fits into a box, so I know that a blanket statement is hard to say. But could you maybe walk us through some inclusive terminology that agents can use with their travelers that have special travel needs, whether it be physical or social or healthcare needs?

Becky: [00:26:09] Yeah I, would say probably the most important piece of that is what we've always called for years, people-first language.

So it's a person with a health condition or with a disability. It's not you don't name the disability first. So that's, a big piece of that, I think.

And also I just think generally treating people with respect, like you would any of your clients and travelers. I think that most people and I'll— this is a blanket statement— but I would probably venture to say most people with disabilities, special healthcare needs, et cetera can be pretty forgiving. If this is not something that you do every day or that you're talking with folks every day. And I just think just being generally respectful and asking really good questions.

And I think, we're in a little bit of a delicate space because travel often and travel usually involves overnights and transportation and things like that.

And those are questions that you need to ask as a travel agent. What kind of accommodations do you need? What type of transfers can you make? Are you physically able to do X, Y, and Z? And that can be intimidating to ask those questions, but if you think about it, if you don't ask them, you're not going to be able to get them the appropriate accessibility that they need.

And so really it's just breaking down what you think you need to know, to make sure you're finding them appropriate accommodations, transportation, et cetera, and asking those questions. And most people will realize, yes, they have to answer these kinds of questions or in order to— for you to provide the service that you're providing to them.

Steph: [00:28:11] Just to recap. So instead of saying a disabled person, you'd say a person with a hearing impairment or,

Becky: [00:28:20] Mmm hm.

Steph: [00:28:21] Okay. And then, also when— and I actually listened to a podcast the other day that was talking about accessibility travel and the person they were interviewing was saying that— they were talking about how hoteliers and maybe cruise lines, like everybody is so afraid of being sued for their door being an inch shorter, or an inch less wide than it needs to be ADA compliant.

And that when the people that actually ended up suing these companies, all of them, 100% of the people that he spoke to had said if they just would have actually treated me like a human and would have listened to me and then tried to help me out, I wouldn't be suing. The problem was they weren't receptive and they weren't kind. So that's— it goes back to what you were saying.

So well, let's keep on this subject of inclusiveness, and talk about some ways advisors can make just on their sites and their marketing materials, more inclusive to travelers with disabilities. Because I think—

Becky: [00:29:28] Yeah, go ahead.

Steph: [00:29:29] No, go ahead.

Becky: [00:29:31] I think it can be tough. We, I don't know about other agents, we try as best we can to use our own travelers' images on our website and marketing materials. And I know if you don't usually book trips for people with disabilities, you don't have access to those types of images.

But there are images like that available. But I think also it's a language piece. On our website, we just say that we book travel for all travelers. And I think we go a little bit further and say, including those with special healthcare needs disabilities, et cetera, because that is a focus and something we want to promote.

But I think to your point about racial diversity... all of that, it's just, it's sometimes hard as a business owner to make sure that you're including every type of person. That is a tough job, but I think we can put in photos of different people who have— that just are more reflective of who we want to be working with.

And that doesn't mean— I think sometimes we do get stuck in a hole of, well this is who I book. Not because we're not booking anybody else, but this is who's calling me.

Steph: [00:31:02] Yeah. It's a feedback cycle. If you're booking—

Becky: [00:31:05] Yeah and I think it raises another one question is where are you finding your clients? Now, I find that in my business, it's mostly through my own network of people and referrals and then referrals of referrals. But, guess what? My network happens to include quite a few families who have kids with disabilities, who are now adults. I've just always been in those circles. Those are easier for me to find.

So perhaps some strategy would be to connect with maybe a specialty daycare, an autism center or something like that to connect with families who reflect that sort of more inclusive view. I think. So I think those are some creative marketing ways.

I've done a few disability fairs and marketed there. And I think people are surprised to see a travel agency at a place like that. And so it's really interesting to talk to people about their challenges and well, why they haven't traveled. And it's really fun to be able to give them hope, to be honest. That's, that's a really fun thing to be able to do.

Steph: [00:32:21] Yes. And I like, even just on your website. Like you said, getting pictures of every type of— I notice you don't have a half Asian woman on your website, which is very disappointing to me but—

Becky: [00:32:33] If you would like to offer a photo Steph, I'd be happy to include you!

Steph: [00:32:39] I'll do something with me and the dogs!

Becky: [00:32:44] Perfect!

TAC 19: Brandon and Buddy

Steph: [00:32:45] It's impossible, but I like simple things that you have on your website. So a lot of advisors will have a travel tip section about how to prepare for the airport or a packing list or something along those lines. But these— and we'll get into this more and talk more in-depth on the actual travel tips you give— but you have in your resource sections, like how to travel with a service dog and how to, what are a passengers rights when they're flying on the airlines and they happen to be in a wheelchair, what can they expect?

So those types of things, and we'll put a link to Becky's website in our show notes, so you can check it out. They're great and easy for you to add on your site.

And I think it's a way of not necessarily showing a picture, but also being like I see you and I understand that you have will have questions when you travel and I'm proactively telling you, this is how this is what you can expect.

So I, yeah, those are like really easy to implement items that I think can make the real difference.


Wheelchairs 101

So let's move on to our next topic, which is wheelchairs 101. Are you ready, Becky?

Becky: [00:34:00] I... We'll see!

Steph: [00:34:02] It's a quiz show. You don't know that!

Becky: [00:34:04] You can help with this since you do use a wheelchair sometimes. I'm pulling you into this Steph!.

Steph: [00:34:11] Here's the thing. Most people don't know a lot of about wheelchairs, myself included. And so when I had to buy a wheelchair, I, well, number one, I was like, "Whoa, there's a lot of types of wheelchairs out here!!" And I even bought the wrong type of wheelchair for myself the first time, because I didn't think— I live in Minnesota and I was buying it during the fall and the winter, which you know, there's snow on the ground usually...

So I wanted it to get out and about, with like someone pushing me, but I got a transport chair, which is not what I needed because— as most of you that are smart can probably tell from the name transport chair, it's just for a short transport. But I didn't know that. And so I ended up with this wheelchair that my sister and I would get stuck at stop signs in snowbanks. And she's super tiny... oh I can't tell you how— 

TAC 19: Bethaney Medeira Beach
Bethaney enjoying Medeira beach.

Becky: [00:35:09] See, we need some photos of that, I think. I feel like we need photos of that!

Steph: [00:35:15] For the poor cars that were waiting to cross when we were stuck in the snow... and my tiny sister trying to help pull me out. We are just laughing hysterically. Because we were like, this is so embarrassing. And everyone's just, "Oh, what do we do? Do we go out and help her? Maybe she's getting her out? I don't know.."

[Laughter]

So, well maybe your sister is in a power— wheelchair which you know, is very different from again, a transport chair— so when you're talking to, or when an advisor is talking to clients, what kind of qualifying questions should they be asking to make sure they understand number one, what type of wheelchair is needed, and then that that client has a smooth trip? Because a transport chair, you just fold up. A power wheelchair, you don't really fold up.

Becky: [00:36:15] So, that's the first question is to find out what type of wheelchair, whether it's a power chair or what we call a manual wheelchair, which basically means it's not powered.

Because there's pretty major differences between the two of those as you said. One can be folded up the other cannot. So just think about it intuitively, right? If you have this big power wheelchair that can't be folded up, that means there are extra considerations that need to be made for any kind of ground transportation, whether that's from the airport to the hotel, which is a challenge. Often I've found when there's free airport shuttles from the hotels, 99% of the time, none of them have a lift.

So it's doing your research and finding out what sort of accessible transport is there for that type of wheelchair.

Now, if you're dealing with a manual wheelchair, then the question becomes, can the person get out of the wheelchair and transfer into a seat or can they not? Because that's a pretty big difference.

Even when my sister used a manual wheelchair, she could not transfer easily in and out of a car, for example. I think it just depends on that. This is where it's okay to ask people what's your ability to transfer yourself. Can you walk a little bit or can you not walk at all?

And that's going to, again, make a difference. If somebody can get into a car or a van just fine, then you gotta make sure that vehicle then has the capacity to fit a folded wheelchair, plus luggage usually.

So those are some questions. And then— that's mostly for ground.

I would say for air transportation, again, finding out do— can the person transfer to an airport wheelchair and be escorted to the gate?

In which case, then they check your wheelchair and put it under the plane and you cross your fingers that it's not damaged because, yeah—

Steph: [00:38:28] Yes, yes.

TAC 19: Brandon Enjoying Margarita
Brandon enjoying a margarita.

Becky: [00:38:29] It does happen a bit as well. Or in the instance of my friend, Brandon, who just traveled, he uses a power chair and he takes his chair all the way to the gate.

And then he can actually get out of his chair and get onto the airplane. And then they put his, they— just like you would do a last-minute gate side check of your baggage, they gate check his chair and then bring it out to him when he, when they arrive at the airport. So there's just some questions around that.

And I will say that in our research through the foundation, all of the major airlines have a section on their website where you can usually either fill out a form that says specifically what accessibility needs your passenger has and then can guide you on what to do.

But I would say even I've booked my— a relative of mine who is older and can't walk without trouble breathing the entire spans of the airport to get to the gate. And in that instance, then, there's usually just attendants waiting at the airline gates or at the check-in counters with wheelchairs. And you can just get a wheelchair and someone to push your chair through the airport. And so again, that's a different sort of need than someone who's in a power wheelchair. But also that's something that's available.

So it's just asking those kinds of questions, about what that particular person's needs and abilities are.

Steph: [00:40:11] This is just a question that I was just thinking of. Do you know if it's less likely that the power wheelchairs will be damaged if it's checked gate side versus at the check-in counter?

Becky: [00:40:26] If I, said yes, that just be my opinion. Cause I feel like it's going to be in a different spot on the airplane and not all the way under. But I don't know that for a fact.

Steph: [00:40:37] I was just wondering. Cause I was thinking, well, then it doesn't have to travel as far and maybe goes there towards the end of putting things on there a little bit less frazzled. I'm not sure.

Becky: [00:40:51] And then other tip is that I've seen this tip many different places, is that if you put instructions on how to power down and take off any movable parts of your wheelchair, that's super important. If you can take off leg rests, armrests, those kinds of things, and even carry them on the plane, that's just going to be less parts that can be damaged.

The worst thing that can possibly happen— and again, this is what makes the travel somewhat challenging for folks— is you get to your destination and your chair has been damaged to a point where you can't use it. And then, there's "okay. We've got to find a repair place or a loaner or something like that."

And so I would say to travel advisors, just knowing what type of resource is available, wherever that person is going to be, would be important. And you don't have to pour over it and know all the details, but maybe just know who to call if something like that happens, I think, yeah.

Steph: [00:41:58] And one thing, I think, for advisors to check on, too, is the— if the person has never traveled before— or just checking in on the battery size, if they do have a power wheelchair because there are limitations on the

Becky: [00:42:12] Sizing and type. There's a couple of different types. There's wet cells and dry cells.

Steph: [00:42:17] Oh!

Becky: [00:42:19] I think most wheelchairs now are the dry, cause I don't think they like the wet cells, but, yeah.

Steph: [00:42:26] I don't even know what the difference is between those, but—

Becky: [00:42:29] And that's where it's nice because the airport— the airline forms will ask you those specific questions. I even forget. I just did a transfer for my friend Brandon in the Dominican, and they asked, and I had to text him and say, what do you have again? Remind me?

Wheelchair users know, like they can answer those questions right off the bat. And that's it, that's a normal thing for them, so...

Steph: [00:42:53] Except me! I'm like what? A wet and a dry cell? I don't know!

Becky: [00:42:58] You'll have to get the manual out Steph.

Steph: [00:43:02] I just know when I was like looking around it, it said , buy this battery if you plan on traveling. I was like check! Put it in the cart.

Becky: [00:43:09] Sure, there you go. Good. Very good. Yeah.

Accessible Travel Tips

Steph: [00:43:14] Let's see. Well let's shift gears and talk about some accessible travel tips. Because again, you have that wonderful section on your site that the foundation created these forms.

Now maybe it's just me, but I feel like the only resource that I see on a regular basis for advisors that want to serve travelers with disabilities is the Special Needs at Sea group.And if you're not familiar with that company, we'll link to it in the show notes, but essentially it's a company that provides mobility aids, like scooters or wheelchairs or oxygen and other medical supply rentals to travelers.

So my first question, Becky, is what are your favorite places for learning about accessible travel and keeping up with the trends that are out there? And feel free to talk about Special Needs at Sea, too.

Becky: [00:44:12] Yeah. So I would highly recommend that anyone, any travel advisors— you're going to come across clients who have special needs period. Whether it's an aging population or someone with kids with disabilities.

So the Special Needs at Sea program, I think is a really good— it's comprehensive, but not super time intensive as far as some training. And I know there's also—

Steph: [00:44:39] Is it only cruise focused the training and how to work with—

Becky: [00:44:43] No, because you can also— there are specific, there are some ports, and I think they're expanding to not just being cruise ports.

But if you have a client staying in one of the destinations, they don't have to be on a ship. They can be staying in the destination and Special Needs at Sea can still provide some of those supplies. It's limited to location, obviously. But that is something, so they're a little bit more expansive than that.

There are also some specific cruising programs for families, primarily who have kids with autism, there's Autism on the Seas is a specialty program. Of course all of the big theme parks cater very well to people with disabilities and have scooters available and that sort of thing.

And let's see, I'm trying to get back to your question. Sorry.

Steph: [00:45:40] No, that's okay.

Becky: [00:45:41] Some of my favorite places for training? Um...

Steph: [00:45:44] Well you mentioned the Travelability conference. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Becky: [00:45:50] I can. I went to it the first year and it really is— it was at the time a startup. Kind of, let's just get these minds together from primarily over the U S, I don't think it was international at that point. And let's just talk about accessible travel and what's needed. And we had some great— I would call them suppliers— but just representatives even. There's a person at the U S parks department whose job is just to inform people about the accessibility in all of the national parks. Like what a cool job!

Steph: [00:46:30] Yeah.

Becky: [00:46:31] And what knowledge. And we have contact information with that person.

The cruise lines typically have someone dedicated to accessibility.

Steph: [00:46:43] I had no idea. Yeah, it makes sense. But I had no idea. I saw it on there. 

Becky: [00:46:50] And it's just, it's comforting, I think, as a travel advisor— even for me who knows a smidgen about this— it's comforting for me to know that I can contact somebody that works for that cruise line and ask them specific questions.

And they have processes in place to. They know that they need to also cater to people with special needs. But being able to ask specifics about room size or really anything. My guess is that most of the major hotel brands also have this. I'm not sure that our places like our resort chains and things like that in the Caribbean Mexico would go to that extent.

But one tip, I would say— this is something I pay attention to when I'm on FAM trips is I'm obviously always looking at a resort with— through the eye of accessibility. And would this resort makes sense for a person in a wheelchair or X, Y, or Z.

And so sometimes I'll ask questions specifically, do you have any accessible rooms? Can we, see one of those rooms, if you do?

So I, I tend to ask those questions and I think as a travel advisor, that's a great extra question because it does two things. One, it helps educate you as the travel adviser and two, it lets these resorts know that we care about those things.

Steph: [00:48:15] Yup.

Becky: [00:48:16] And I think that's a big piece of it as well. If they're not getting asked for these things, then why include them? Why should we include them when we're building? They are not in the U S, they're not bound by the Americans with Disabilities Act. They don't have to have accessible features to any of their rooms or their pools. And I think it's nice to acknowledge those resorts that do and thank them for considering that.

TAC 19_1
No one doesn't love a zero entry pool.

Because think, thinking about it, if it's accessible— more accessible for people with disabilities, it's really easier for everyone to use, the chances are. A zero entry pool, for example. Like, that works well for everybody. So why not?

And so I think, that sort of is on your own training, right? When you're out and about checking out places and just knowing what exists. Knowing when you're on the transfer company, going from the airport to a hotel or resort, do you have any accessible transfers? Do you have any transfers with lifts? How do we request those? Asking those questions? I think because I don't believe there's a lot of formalized training.

So things like this conference, which is I think the conference that you're talking about is higher level, bigger advocacy, which is amazing. It needs to happen. But I think on a day-to-day basis as travel advisors, we can just ask the questions to help us get smarter about these things and help the resorts know that we want to know about them and we care about these things.

Steph: [00:50:02] Yeah. And I did reach out— well, so, after you told me about the TravelAbility conference, I was like, that sounds amazing. So I really scoured their site and then I reached out to them too. Cause I was like—

Becky: [00:50:12] Good!

Steph: [00:50:13] Yeah, well I told them "listen, we're going to be talking a little bit about TravelAbility on an upcoming podcast and they do have— so they are doing a virtual conference this year. It's on three different dates. There was four, but one already passed. But if you are interested in attending, they do have a promo code for travel advisors to save $200 on the VIP pass. And that is TAS200. And we'll put that in the show notes as well, as the link to Travelability's conference. But it— it is a great starting point, I will say for anyone that really wants to dig down into this.

Because I was telling Becky what I found on there, under their resources was something that I've been looking for a while— and I think you have too Becky— like a list of suppliers that work with people with disabilities and have that on their radar.

So there's a— it's not a list of two. I was telling Becky, I found a website and it was like Romanian taxi services that are like ADA compliant. I was like, okay very small niche there. But it was something else, but this one has a huge list of companies that offer travel services.

And it also has, if you look at the speakers, there's a lot of speakers that you can follow for great information. Like the park service person, Becky or there's the person that's The Royal Caribbean point of contact for director of disability and inclusion.

And then, there was also like influencers within the travelers with disabilities. So I think it was like wheelchairtravel.org is a great site of a man in a power wheelchair that travels, I think 200 days of the year. And he— the, he travels a lot and he blogs about it and his team blogs about it. And all sorts of—I saw he just put up an article about like changing tables in the bathrooms at airports and where you can find those for people— this isn't changing table for changing your child's diaper. This is for people that might need a changing table when they're traveling.

A lot of, great stuff. And then there was tour operators that work with— there was one, what was it? AccessibleTravelSolutions.com. And they have accessible services in 45 different countries. So it's not just cruise specific. But they do group travel and FITs and shore excursions and guided tours. They do transfers.

So like I said, check that out. It's a great starting point for like really digging down into things.

Becky: [00:53:16] And I think we as travel advisors need to do a better job of connecting with those agencies and learning from them instead of just handing off our clients and saying, "Oh, this is my traveler with a disability. I'm going to send them here for someone else to plan their trip." And instead finding out ways to work with those suppliers to still retain those people as your clients. And really learn something from that and help them.

Steph: [00:53:47] Yeah. It's a great learning opportunity, especially when you have someone. Cause I know what's scary for people is they don't want to screw up and they don't want to say the wrong thing, but this is like a great mentoring, learning opportunity to be able to work with this suppliers so that you're asking the right questions and saying the right things and thinking about the right things.

Becky: [00:54:11] I agree.

Steph: [00:54:12] Yeah. So let's keep this stream of info going. we talked about on your site, those travel tip sections, and I found that really helpful. So are you okay if we go through some of those travel tips, and then you can share your favorite tidbit on each of the different forms?

Becky: [00:54:33] We can, though I haven't looked at those for a very long time Steph!

[Laughter]

Steph: [00:54:42] Well, okay. So if Becky can't remember everything that's on there, if you want to get the keys to the kingdom, with all the answers, everyone, you can go to Becky's website, which again, I'll link to in the show notes.

Becky: [00:54:54] I'm also happy to take suggestions if there are other items or tips that you have found as a travel advisor we are very open to suggestions and additions and...

Steph: [00:55:06] Yeah, that's a fabulous idea! So if you're listening to this and you are finding you will have something you want to share, I would love for this episode to be a gathering point for people. So in— if you're watching on YouTube, feel free to write in the comments any suggestions or any questions or things you'd like to see.

If you're listening to this, you can go to HostAgencyReviews.com/TAC click on this episode, which is number 19. And after the very long transcription, they will be the comment section at the bottom. And please comment away. Let's use this to educate everybody and help everyone become better travel advisors.

So Becky let's talk about some travel tips that would be helpful to a person with hearing impairments when they're going on trips. Things they need to think about and things you should be asking.

Becky: [00:56:09] I just think, generally speaking, first of all, before they even go on a trip, you've got to figure out as a travel advisor the best way to communicate with them. So that's the person that may do better with email texts et cetera.

Steph: [00:56:25] Yup.

Becky: [00:56:26] And so thinking about that as a piece. And then while they're traveling, just asking them what's their preferred way to communicate while they're traveling? Are they okay if they need to write things down, are they traveling with a companion who can interpret for them? And those kinds of things.

If they're traveling alone, again, it's asking them what they need. What do you need in your room as far as accessibility. In the U S it's not as big of a problem. Most of the ADA compliant rooms, I think have some sort of smoke, smoke alarm, fire detector systems that will shake the bed or they can bring their own, I believe.

And so it's those kinds of things. I think for that, it would be communication. Figuring out how they're going to communicate. And then in case of emergency, are there things in place that if this person can't hear what's going on, there's some way for them to know what's happening. So I would say those are the top ones in that area.

Steph: [00:57:29] Perfect. And what about someone traveling with a service dog? What are some tips agents can tell their clients with service dogs to ensure that they'll have a smooth trip?

Becky: [00:57:41] I think just researching ahead of time where people can take their service animals to use the restroom.

Steph: [00:57:54] That's a big thing!

Becky: [00:57:56] Yeah. Finding out those types of things. I actually was just on Facebook today and it was on a group of travel advisors, I think, selling in the Caribbean or Mexico or something. And somebody was asking, "does anyone know if you can bring service animals to X resort?"

Great question. I don't know the answer to that. I would have to call the resort, call my BDM and find that out.

But asking those kinds of questions before you just assume that rules are the same elsewhere as they are here. Obviously in public, service animals are welcome here in the U S, but we can't make that assumption.

And checking the flight rules on— for each airline, what are the requirements for those animals? And they are getting a little more strict on that. So I think that's something to pay attention to as well.

Yeah. Especially, I feel as a travel advisor, it's a really great thing to be able to proactively ask these questions to your— especially if your client has never traveled before they may or may not even think of these things, but that would be your job.

Steph: [00:59:09] Yeah. And, you've got a PDF on the Airline Access Act, which is essentially the rights of travelers with disabilities when they're flying. So that is one that like every advisor should read through and be aware of. So you know what you can expect and what by law should be happening.

So walk us through a few of the highlights that are important about that act.

Becky: [00:59:38] Again, I don't have that memorized per se.

Steph: [00:59:42] How do you not have an acct, an airline act memorized?!

Becky: [00:59:46] I don't use it every day!

But I will say that people do make the mistake of saying— thinking that the Americans with Disabilities Act is what covers air travel. And it is not. It is the Air Carrier Access Act. But there are tips on there, I believe, that say things like the airplane cannot dictate that you have to sit in X seat if you are a wheelchair user. They're actually, on planes that were built after a certain year, there should be a closet on that plane specifically for someone's wheelchair to go into and they can't tell you that that closet's full with other things and your wheelchair can't go in there. That's it. You get first dibs on that.

Restrooms on airplanes are supposed to be accessible, again, if they're built after a certain year. Which, I don't know who's policing that I've never been in an airplane restroom that feels any bigger than a closet.

Steph: [01:00:54] That's true.

Becky: [01:00:58] So things like that. So those are the kinds of things that the air carrier access act covers. And it just, I think, lets people know their rights and it's really good to be informed so that you don't get pushed around by the airline for their convenience factor. It might be more convenient for them for you to sit in this seat but they don't have to make you sit there.

And so other things like that I think are just good to know for your clients. Again, if they're not frequent travelers. Those are some— really just two or three of those tips for them to know and have that information going in can make them think that you are like brilliant and the best travel advisor ever.

Steph: [01:01:45] Yeah. Even just when you're talking and saying, a lot of people think it's the ADA that covers flights and it's not. I'd never heard of heard of the Airline Access Act until until I read it yesterday on your site. So...

Becky: [01:02:01] Yay! Well, now that we're talking Steph, I feel, oh my gosh, on my to-do list now, I feel like I could do a bunch of webinars. We could have a whole webinar on—

Steph: [01:02:10] Yes! That'd be great because I think people would really enjoy being able to actually ask questions and get some ideas in real time. This is very helpful. Like I said, we're our goal is to give you actionable, takeaway items and a lot of tidbits, questions to be thinking about. But it's also nice to be able to get some questions answers in real time.

So we will, chat more on that Becky and everybody keep your eye on the events calendar. At HostAgencyReviews.com/events. And if you aren't signed up for our newsletter, make sure you're signed up for that so you can see when this webinar comes out. This webinar that we just dreamed up, when it will come out!

Becky: [01:02:55] I love it.

Steph: [01:02:57] Well, okay. So lastly, traveling with oxygen, what do we need to know about that as a travel expert?

Becky: [01:03:05] I know nothing about that.

Steph: [01:03:08] It's flammable, that's what you need to know.

Becky: [01:03:11] So there are very limited amounts of oxygen that you can travel with. So you definitely need to research that. There's also a different kind of oxygen I believe that you can get when you are traveling just specifically for traveling. An organization like Special Needs at Sea can provide you oxygen if you're cruising or at some destinations so that you don't have to bring a large amount with you and figure out how to transport that. So that there are other services like that that are available.

I would say that's probably the limitation of my knowledge because I have not actually—

Steph: [01:03:48] Well Becky, I am on your site and I am looking at it. So let me give a couple.

Becky: [01:03:55] Could you fill in please, so I sound smarter.

Steph: [01:03:58] Yes. So the portable oxygen content concentrators are required to board an airplane and must have a label indicating they are approved by the FAA.

They—you talk about making sure to charge the batteries whenever possible. Like when you're waiting for the flight or you're dining on the cruise ship. You need to notify the airlines when a person is traveling with the portable oxygen concentrators, which apparently the slang is POC. We're using that acronym a lot in here.

Becky: [01:04:34] And then it talks about, let's see, oh, direct flights are recommended since they will not decrease the life— the battery life— as much of the POC. So it sounds like—

And I would say—

Steph: [01:04:52] Oops, sorry, go ahead.

Becky: [01:04:53] I would say direct flights whenever possible for most people with special needs.

I say that for my other clients as well.

Steph: [01:05:04] Yeah, that's true!

Becky: [01:05:05] Especially with, if they're short layover times, trying to get across the airport sometimes can prove to be difficult if you have to wait for your wheelchair on the plane. And then you gotta get in on the other plane and board. So direct flights whenever possible, for sure.

Steph: [01:05:25] Yeah. And there's another one on here, a tip. It says use the pulse dose on the portable oxygen concentrators, if the doctor allows, this versus the continuous flow, because it's going to conserve the battery life. So that's a tip for clients.

Becky: [01:05:42] Do you see why I— see, I paid someone else to research that information.

Steph: [01:05:47] I totally see why!

Becky: [01:05:51] I don't want to get that wrong.

Steph: [01:05:52] No, it's great because everyone else can use it now, too, and check it out.

Becky: [01:05:57] I probably need to check those and make sure I got to update those. I probably need to update those.

Steph: [01:06:02] Well, I think we can safely, it's a priority for people with oxygen to make sure their portable oxygen concentrator does not run out of batteries.

That's—

Becky: [01:06:10] Correct!

Steph: [01:06:11] —number one. The, um— Oh, here's a tip, too, to talk about, that I had problems with is— and why also like direct flights— it was a place where I had to connect, there was no direct flights from Minneapolis. But we had a connection and one of my medications is a shot that needs to be refrigerated.

And the problem was the ice pack needs to be frozen still, but I had this connection, so the ice pack was not frozen. And well, it was— it was arguably semi-frozen I thought— but anyhow, they were not letting me through security. And I was like, okay, I need, but I need my medicine and I've got like a flight that's leaving ASAP. And so that's something to be aware of too. If they have any special medications that need to be frozen to be aware of that. Cause I honestly am not sure how that works for longer flights because they aren't going to stay frozen forever and yeah...

TAC 19: Sean Scooter
Sean about to go out and about.

Becky: [01:07:22] That's when you need to probably check with the airline specifically and say, I, or I have a client who— what do we do? How do we navigate your airline?

Steph: [01:07:33] Yeah. Yeah. They, eventually did let me in. I think they felt really bad. When you're traveling and— you have to have a lot of things with you. I had all sorts of stuff in my luggage that's like, "this girl has problems" and I think they were like, okay, yeah, you can go through.

But let's see. That was just a stream of fantastic information. So thank you, Becky. And I, know, I think one of the favorite things that you said offline that I loved, was that you want your agency— you want to be the agency that offers travel to all travelers. You didn't want to be the go-to agency for travelers with needs.

And I, feel like sharing your knowledge is going to help so many other advisors interested in serving clients with disabilities. And for those listening, keep in mind that— I looked, up this information yesterday — in addition to the 10 to 20% of the population that has some type of disability, we have the baby boomer generation, which is about 75 million people aging.

And they're going to need more assistance as they age, but they're still gonna want to travel. So Becky, by like sharing your knowledge with the other advisors, it's a great step towards more agencies being able to serve travelers of all needs. So thank you for that.

And, that my friends brings us to our last segment and it's our warmest segment. It's the warm fuzzy segment.


Warm Fuzzy

So this is the segment that we all need when we've been on hold all day with suppliers trying to rebook, or cancel, or check on a refund from the pandemic. It's the segment we need when we've been working for months with still no commissions coming in. It's the segment that helps us remember why we are in the travel industry and why we love what we do.

Becky, what have you got for us today for your warm fuzzy segment?

Becky: [01:09:36] Well, I wanted to relate it to our topic today. And I mentioned my friend Brandon before when we were chatting, Brandon was born missing most of all four of his limbs and he and his wife, they have two children. And during the pandemic, their daughter— who I'm going to get her age wrong, I think she's three—

Steph: [01:10:03] A little one.

Becky: [01:10:04] She— yeah, she's real little. And she had to go through cancer treatments for the last year. And so I had years ago, booked Brandon and Erin's honeymoon and they went to the Dominican and they got the cancer-free diagnosis for their daughter and Brandon said, "we're going on a trip, we need to get out of here."

He and Erin just returned from their second trip to the Dominican and he travels with his power wheelchair, et cetera, et cetera. And so for many reasons— because they're good friends of mine and they really needed a trip— that makes me warm and fuzzy, just that they were able to do that.

Steph: [01:10:46] But also I just saw Erin the other day, and I was like, "I haven't caught up with you about your trip. How was it? I said, please tell me is said, were you able to relax?" And she said, "Oh, Becky said, it was just like going from this relaxing thing, to then this relaxing thing, and then this relaxing thing..." She said the whole trip and that's— in my heart, that's what I wanted for them. To just relax and reconnect.

TAC 19: Brandon and Erin Resort
Brandon and Erin, the star of HAR's warm fuzzy segment.

Becky: [01:11:15] And just that I could have a small part in that and that they involved me and wanted to help me— or wanted me to help them plan that, that gives me warm fuzzies and also the hope of more travelers to come.

So I think that's, my warm fuzzy for today.

Steph: [01:11:32] Man, how is that for wrapping up an episode? That is fantastic. And I would say you didn't play a small part. Planning everything and taking that off their shoulders was a huge part. So...

Thank you for coming on the show today, Becky.

Becky: [01:11:49] Thank for having me!


Closing

Steph: [01:11:50] Yes. And thank all of you for taking the time to listen to our episode today. By the way, if you are a fan of HAR we are hiring , so check out our jobs board at hostagencyreviews.com and apply before our May 3rd deadline at 5:00 PM central standard time. Or central daylight time, I always get that confused.

It's really important— that's what I always do when I write emails is, everyone else is like central standard time, central daylight time. And I always am just like CT. But it is really important to me that we hire— the person that we hire for our community growth specialist is a big fan of HAR, which means that you might be a good fit because you're listening all the way to the closing of the podcast.

Go ahead, go to HostAgencyReviews.com and check out the jobs board.

And kiddos, that is all for now! We will see you next time.

You can read a transcript. You the show notes and watch a video of today's episode by visiting HostAgencyReviews.com/TAC and clicking on episode 19.

Say, since you stuck around this long, can I convince you to leave a review or give the video a like? I I don't have a whole lot to offer you, but I do have two really cute dogs that I can send you pictures of.

Or, I have the big box of multi-grain Cheerios. Well, yeah. Not sure how to close this out now. So how's this for the most awkward indeed ever?

About the Author
Steph Lee - Host Agency Reviews

Steph Lee

Steph grew up in the travel industry. She worked with thousands of agents in her role as a former host agency director before leaving in 2012 to start HAR. She's insatiably curious, loves her pups Rygy and Fennec, and -- in case you haven't noticed -- is kinda quirky.

If you’re looking for Steph, she leaves a trace where ever she goes! You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest as 'iamstephly'. 🙂