A German travel agency serving people with disabilities finds a suitable holiday destination in Greece with help from the Enterprise Europe Network.
For over a decade, boutique German travel agency Weitsprung GmbH has organised guided tours around the world for individuals with reduced mobility - from those in wheelchairs to blind people accompanied by their guide dogs.
Weitsprung provides transport and assistance with wheelchairs, medication and hygiene. But finding handicapped-accessible hotels in attractive locations is not easy, particularly ones that can accommodate larger groups.
For help the agency turned to the Enterprise Europe network, whose 3,000 experts in more than 50 countries help SMEs in all sectors find suitable business partners. Network consultant Tanja Göb of HA Hessen Agentur invited Weitsprung to a business matchmaking event at ITB Berlin international travel trade fair and then helped them draft a company profile and identify the best prospects to meet. Colleague Monika Nagy of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece provided the same services to Greek hotel group P.A.P. Corp., a new Network client that had invested heavily in facilities for limited-mobility travelers.
"Networking events like this are a great way for entrepreneurs to encounter vital new contacts in a very short time," Göb explains. She and Nagy arranged a meeting between their clients, who struck a cooperation agreement soon after.
Weitsprung was impressed with P.A.P.'s Alexander the Great Beach Hotel, the first Greek hotel to take part in the European Commission's 'Happy Tourist' programme promoting equal opportunities in tourism for disabled people. Located on northern Greece's Halkidiki peninsula, it is equipped with handicapped bathrooms and a lift down to the beach.
Weitsprung booked a group stay at the hotel in September 2008 and has brought other groups every year since.
"Thanks to the Network, a trip of a lifetime is now possible for many individuals," says Weitpsprung's co-founder, Birgit Glöckner.
Both Network experts continue to alert Weitsprung and P.A.P. Corp. of upcoming matchmaking events and promising business partners, as well as on developments in the tourism sector and EU funding opportunities. Thanks to the publicity generated by the success story and related video, P.A.P. Corp. has also gotten business from other tour operators seeking hotels with disabled access.
Ⓒ Image courtesy of Keoni Cabral, Flickr.com