The founder of accessible holiday accommodation bookings portal Handiscover, Sebastien Archambeaud talks to UCan2 about how he created a whole community for travellers with disabilities and special needs, following his own family’s experience…
When did Handiscover begin and what was the reason for setting up business?
My wife and I loved travelling a lot. We had been in places such as Asia, Hawaii, Africa and the whole of Europe. Our passion for travel never stopped even after we had our kids, Elise and Teo. We kept travelling when they were just a few months old. However, when my little son Teo was confirmed to have Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and had to use a wheelchair, we came across some new issues during our travel. It was not only difficult to find accessible accommodations online but also hard to find the one that matched what was claimed. For example, there could be a ramp at the property entrance, yet the door of the room was not wide enough for a wheelchair. It could also happen that the toilet had a handrail, but the facility had steps to enter the shower and not the ability to roll-in.
When I talked to our community, I found that this issue was not uncommon. Most of the time, many of us needed to do extensive research online and then make a couple of calls with accommodations providers, asking for photos to make sure everything was accessible. The once, enjoyable pre-travel preparation experience, turned out to be something very time-consuming, tedious and worrying. Some of us would even give up and think travelling is a luxury.
I want to change this. Starting as a small business three years ago, we have a big dream. We want to enable everyone in our community to discover the world and enjoy new experiences. That’s why I set up Handiscover (www.handiscover.com), an accommodation booking website dedicated to people with reduced mobility or special needs.
Where are the Handiscover properties sited and how many are there?
Throughout the years, together we created a travel community and grew our accessible accommodations. Now we are proud to tell our community that we are the no. 1 holiday accommodation booking website in the accessibility field. We have over 23,000 certified properties online and hundreds of thousands of hotel access via customer support.
With our recent partnership with Amadeus, Handiscover now has access to most of Amadeus’s 650,000 hotels and with our proprietary algorithm we are beginning the process of classifying them into three different mobility categories.
This means - OUR COMMUNITY HAS A CHOICE. We can choose a place that matches our accessibility. We can choose from houses and apartments to villas, B&B, hotels and even bungalows and tree houses. We can choose a place that goes within our budget. We can also choose a destination from as many as 190 countries where we have accessible accommodations.
How do people book a Handiscover holiday? What kinds of facilities to the Handiscover properties offer to make them accessible?
With our users in mind, our website (www.handiscover.com) is as easy-to-use as possible. Only four simple steps are needed to find a right accessible accommodation:
1. Enter a Destination
2. Choose Mobility
3. Enquire about Dates
4. Click Find a Place!
Our system will list the accommodations that match the required accessibility. If the users like one of the suggested places, they can click on that particular accommodation. All the details such as accessible parking, a ramp at entrance, roll-in shower, toilet with grab rails and widen door will be shown. With only one more click, the users can already book the accommodation. It greatly prevents us from the back and forth communications with the hosts, saving us time to plan our itinerary.
If you don’t see your preferred destination or mobility level, don’t fret! Handiscover is adding accommodations daily, and you can get personal service via email through firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a shout by calling customer support at 01550 400022.
To inspire travellers to discover and experience the world with confidence, we have also created hundreds of destination guides, blogs and tips on our website. The large travel community on our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest is where Handiscover and our fans actively share travel journeys and tips.
Are accessible transfers from airports/ports available?
We understand the importance of on-ground transport. Though we are not really a travel agent and do not provide airport/port transfers for now, we understand that this service will significantly help our community to go travel. As such, we have contact with a lot of local partners and we are very happy to share their information with our users upon their request. In the future, we are planning to expand our business to make it easier for our community to discover the world.
Our mission is to enable our community to discover the world with ease and security. The whole team at Handiscover and I hold it dear in our hearts. Moving forward, we want to further expand our number of accessible accommodations and provide even better booking experience for our users.