On Entrepreneurship and Accessible Travel
Brett Heising is the CEO of brettapproved, Inc. home to brettapproved.com, a travel and lifestyle website for anyone with a physical disability or mobility challenge who wants to travel confidently.
A resident of Arizona, Brett Heising brings a lifetime of experience to his role as Founder and CEO of brettapproved, Inc. A successful journalist and PR pro turned entrepreneur, Brett is a global speaker on the subjects of diversity and inclusion, entrepreneurship, accessible travel trends and more.
He was a member of the Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 class of 2015, serves on the Board of United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona and he’s active in the Phoenix startup community.
Brett is building brettapproved.com because, "Whether you're traveling around the corner to meet friends for coffee or around the world for the trip of a lifetime, you should have the accessibility information and services you need to travel confidently." He also helps major players in the hospitality and transportation sectors audit company-wide systems, processes, policies and processes to ensure that travelers with disabilities and reduced mobility have the best possible experience.
A proud graduate of The Ohio State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a specialization in Public Relations and a minor in Political Science, Brett lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife, Claudia and his one-year-old Golden Retriever, “Handsome” George.
In this episode of the Podcast we discuss the personal challenges and frustrations that inspired Brett to start brettapproved incorporated and to develop a website where community members around the world and country contribute reviews about the accessibility of restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues. Travel, Brett reminds us, is not a luxury but a human right. Beyond helping people with disabilities and mobility challenges prepare for and plan travel both within and outside their communities Brett and I discuss the far-reaching implications that lack of accessibility has on employment, advancement and social mobility for persons with disabilities and he shares with us how he continues to take an active role in advocating for better experiences for travelers with disabilities and reduced mobility in the transportation and hospitality industry and beyond.
-Brett Heising is the founder and CEO of brettapproved, Inc the world’s foremost travel website for people with disabilities.
-Brett worked for many years as a PR and Public Affairs professionals which required a lot of travel and frequently he would arrive at his hotel and the accessible room with the roll-in shower was not available. This means he would have to attend an important meeting with high level professionals without being able to take a shower and get ready as he normally would.
-“Going where you want, when you want, where you want is a human right.”
-People with disabilities and mobility challenges are often viewed as a demographic and people fail to see the fathers, mothers, sons, and other personal identities of the individuals.
-Brettapproved.com uses a patent pending Brett Score which is formulated based on ratings and reviews provided by users and can indicate how accessible a location is. A higher Brett Score indicates greater accessibility while a lower Brett Score indicates lower accessibility. Users can use the Brett Score to prepare for their trip and select a venue that meets their needs
-Travel considerations and challenges vary for people with disabilities and mobility challenges. Sometimes fear of being the center of attention is the biggest challenge people face and visiting restaurants or venues at off-hours may be a good way to enjoy your time without feeling overexposed
-Air travel poses challenges and the Airlines Carrier Action Act puts protocols in place for travelers with disabilities. Airline employees, however, may not know their ACAA guidelines.
-Having to give up mobility devices such as crutches, walkers or wheelchairs before boarding a plane can be nerve wracking.
-If you are travelling with a mobility device, remove everything that you can that could get damaged--head rest, joystick, foot rests and wrap them up carefully.
- Check ahead of time if the specific battery on your power chair or scooter can go on that specific plane
-Get there early, talk with the person at the gate and ask to speak with the person who is going to handle your chair. Take a moment to shake their hand and explain politely to them the importance of handling your device in the best way they can
-Research your destination to see if there is a local wheelchair repair shop or even bike shop if you need new casters or to have repairs done
-Take spare parts such as casters and patch kits with you
-Free site, create a profile for free and users review any restaurant, hotel or entertainment venue in the world as long as there is a physical address
-So far there are >1600 reviews but this leaves room for tons more reviews
-More user reviews= critical mass and the ability to plan a trip anywhere in the world and find information from users who have already traveled there
-63 million American adults have some kind of disability
-Email Brett@Brettapproved.com and he can assist you in planning a trip that meets your needs
-Proprietary training program works with hotel staff to train them on appropriate language, how to resolve issues and disputes, how to interact respectfully with guests, and how staff can monitor their attitude, tone and demeanor (ATD)
-When you have a disability, the joy and excitement of anticipating a travel trip may be overshadowed by lack of information about the destination and anxiety around what to expect. Brettapproved.com’s goal is to provide people with information about what to expect so that even if it’s less than ideal they can plan for it
-The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is usually 3-4x the national average and the wage gap is staggering
-Privatized healthcare and healthcare through employment creates long wait times and many hoops to jump through to get necessary equipment
-SeedSpot is a nonprofit that supports entrepreneurs whose projects are aimed at making the world a better place
Links to Brett