January 25, 2018 | by Dena Friedman
For families with an autistic child, planning a fun, relaxing and stress-free vacation can certainly be challenging given the potential for sensory overload - crowds, dizzying sights and sounds, and an unfamiliar and unpredictable environment. Often, appropriate resources and an understanding ear are limited. Now, thanks to a new training and certification program, a greater number of travel agents and other hospitality professionals are better prepared to help plan your next adventure.
The program, launched in August 2017 by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), enables travel agents to attain the status, “Certified Autism Travel Professional.” Since the program’s inception, IBCCES has certified more than 1,000 agents, with more to follow, along with popular destinations such as Beaches Resorts and Sesame Place in Philadelphia. Beaches approached the IBCCES about the program to better serve its clients.
Many agents and destination professionals initiate requests for training and certification in the field because they want to be better equipped to accommodate individuals with ASD. Jaclyn Fratus, IBCCES’ Director of Strategic Partners, promotes the program at agent conferences, where enthusiasm for the program runs high and registration nears 100 percent of attendees. "I have not heard one negative thing" she said. "Everybody we've heard from has just said that this was so overdue, and there's nothing like that out there."
The program runs the gamut of the travel booking process and includes 10 core competencies, covering topics such as what autism is, the individual's perspective and the parents' perspective, air travel, cruises and selling to the autism market. Agents must also pass the Autism Travel Competency Exam (also administered online) and complete annual training.
Once certified, agents will be listed in the IBCCES registry, and will receive a certificate, wallet card and digital badge. Agents are also listed on Autism Travel, a resource website from the IBCCES where consumers can search for a certified agent by ZIP code.
With an increasing number of agents and destinations becoming certified, your time together, can be a wonderful time to remember.
Source: Travel Weekly, January 22, 2018