Ever since Paul Nadin’s mother died from multiple sclerosis when he was 23 he has had a desire to help others in the disabled community.
“I have been ‘disabled-conscious’ because of my background and I wanted to pay something back to the disabled community for all that my mum did for me, as well as feeling I have been guided to do this because of my Christian faith,” says Paul, who bought a directory specialising in accommodation for disabled holidaymakers in 2010.
He has since continued the Disabled Holiday Directory but also turned the business into a specialist travel agency and developed a sister brand, Disabled Cruise Club. Both ventures put together packages to cater for clients’ needs.
To differentiate the agency operations from the directory, Paul plans to rebrand the agency with the domain name Disabledholidays.com, which he recently acquired.
Paul and his team of 20 staff are well aware of the challenges involved in selling holidays to disabled customers and the need to be well-trained and knowledgeable.
Bookings can take longer because of the information required from the customer and the time it can take to find a holiday with the right facilities. For example, where holiday accommodation is not set up to meet a client’s needs, Paul and his team may need to ensure equipment, such as a hoist, is provided.
As well as getting the transport and accommodation right, his staff have to be able to deal with customers’ complex needs and even attitudes.
“Selling travel to this market is a lot more involved,” says Paul. “Some customers might have a chip on their shoulder because they have been dealt a tough hand in life, so it helps to understand why they might be more aggressive to us in order to maintain a professional, caring response.”
Some of the bookings can be emotionally upsetting, and Paul admits most of his staff have shed their fair share of tears in the booking process. An empathetic approach can go a long way.
“Sometimes we are booking the last holiday of someone’s life, if they have a terminal illness,” says Paul.
“It’s a big responsibility, but it’s a privilege to be trusted to do it.”
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