25 Apr 2017

Planning a seamless business trip for people with special needs can be challenging and complicated. Businesses are well advised to have focused travel policies and plans in place that address the unique needs of these travellers.

Special needs is a broad term; it includes any traveller with a physical or intellectual impairment or disability, pre-existing and  permanent conditions such as heart or lung disease, hearing and visual impairment, diabetes and asthma; or temporary i.e.  a broken limb or pregnancy, etc. as well as travellers with reduced mobility and who are wheelchair bound.

“The scope and detail within a travel policy that specifically focuses on special need travellers is dependent on a number of factors,” says Sharon Nash, Club Travel Corporate’s Operations Director. “Factors ranging from company size and culture, to budget.” However, the responsibility to accommodate and manage the potential liabilities related to special needs travel is shared; the traveller is responsible to disclose any condition that requires special plans, keeping the company’s travel manager informed and up to date on all related matters such as the necessary medical certificates, prescriptions, and ‘fit to fly’ declarations or certificates from a medical professional.

“Although many airlines, airports, local transport companies, and hotels etc. make provisions for special need travellers, managing the preparation, bookings and management of business travel for special needs travellers needs to be done holistically to ensure a process that is both cost effective and seamless,” says Sharon. Working with a travel management company with the relevant experience, expertise and qualified database of vendors / suppliers that cater for special needs, will save companies time and money, and most importantly ensure that the special needs travellers are professionally and respectfully catered for.

Knowledge is power. “The corporate travel manager who encourages feedback and comments from travellers upon their return builds a powerful reserve of knowledge which should be shared with the travel management company,” concludes Sharon. “By promoting successful travel experiences, the corporate travel manager is highlighting the value of these individuals to the organisation, which is a great incentive for others to do the same.”

Below are some basic considerations for special-needs travellers: