Vacation is supposed to be the best time of the year. It is nice to take a break from the stresses of everyday life for a little while and enjoy the seaside or immerse yourself in a different culture. But for many, it can feel more like a holiday to stay at home than it is to go through the struggle of booking accommodation that suits their needs. That is why Handiscover – a travel tech company offering accommodation bookings for people with all levels of disabilities – was founded: “to enable and to inspire people to discover the world whatever their needs are”, says the CEO of Handiscover, Sebastien Archambeaud.
“A lot of our users still do not believe, think or are afraid of making the first step of traveling, for example, to Rome. When booking accommodation, it is important to know what you are booking beforehand. We are for informing as much information as possible to people so they can make their own decisions. We could say that impact is at the core of what we do: enable our community to travel. The number of bookings is our impact.”
Sebastien came up with the idea from his own personal experience. His son has mobility problems, so the family saw how annoying and challenging it was to search and find accommodation that suited their needs. Also, how annoying it was using traditional websites they found they could not trust. Always having to call, ask for pictures and still not be able to trust that a hundred percent.
So in 2015 Handiscover was founded. Starting with collaborations with semi-professionals (private owners or small B&Bs), Handiscover now also offers bookings in hotels. Handiscover’s system is based on three levels of accessibility which reflect the mobility needs of their clients. Their focus is not only on offering booking services. Knowing how hard it can be for people to take the decision to travel, Handiscover shares stories of community members, guest bloggers and ambassadors to show how, whatever the mobility or special need one could have, it should not be an obstacle to travel. They firmly believe in the importance of creating a community to sustain, motivate and inspire people to start traveling. And when a client comes back to thank them for their help, that is when Sebastien feels that all the hard work has made a great impact.
“Last year a customer finally managed to reach her big dream of traveling to New York. She has never been in the US. Through us, she got inspired and we helped her to choose accommodation which suited her needs. It was really fantastic to see that a family who had been stuck in the UK, not daring to take a trip abroad and now actually daring to take the step to cross the ocean. To discover the Big Apple. It was super nice for us to receive feedback afterwards. That’s the best.”
Handiscover went through Impact Hub’s Scaling program in 2015 – 2016, which not only offered him a range of seminars to assist in his company’s development but also critical networking opportunities. The program gave Sebastien knowledge sharing, his first contacts and a lot of inspiration on how to develop his startup.
Sebastien took great advantage of Impact Hub’s international network: “Through that program, we got in contact with several Impact Hub offices. I was able to get in touch with one of the London contacts. Focusing on the UK as our test market, Impact Hub in London was of real help with partner leads and PR contacts. That helped us a lot at the beginning” Sebastien says. The company is now present in 83 countries, most of them being in Europe but the aim is to get more visibility and more funds to be able to expand into the US and in other markets where the need is high.
“Impact is at the core of what we do: to enable our community to travel. The number of bookings is our impact. Softer impact values with people we work with. We try as much as possible to work with people with disabilities – either themselves or their relatives because we both want people to understand what we do and because in many countries, unemployment is very high among people with disabilities. We want to try to help that as much as possible.”