How Handiscover simplifies wheelchair-friendly holidays

Handiscover is the world’s largest platform for accessible vacation rentals with over 23,000 properties in 52 countries – all classified based on accessibility requirements so that guests can find the perfect lodging for their mobility level or special needs. But how did they get here? We interviewed Sebastien Archambeaud, founder and CEO at Handiscover, who shares with us his personal journey. 

Sebastien founded Handiscover in 2015 as the father of a young son who has a muscle condition and uses a wheelchair. He noticed a huge gap in the market as he was travelling around with his family and went through a lot of trouble to book wheelchair-friendly holidays. Having a professional background in management and marketplaces, he decided to launch a startup that would help the millions of differently abled and elderly people with limited mobility.

How does Handiscover work?

“Since there are no universally accepted norms of accessibility, we’ve created our own algorithm capable of classifying properties based on a specific set of requirements. Each vacation rental or hotel room in our site is sorted into one of 3 categories based on the level of accessibility:

– For people who can walk up a maximum of 15 stairs.
– For people who can only handle one step at a time. These properties are quite accessible but not up to the latest standards.
– For people who need a fully accessible accommodation. These have accessible bathrooms and toilets, wider doors, etc.

These 3 levels are marked by easy-to-understand icons that guests can take into account when searching for an accommodation that best suits their needs. And it’s very easy for property owners and manager! By answering our Questionnaire, their rentals get listed and be properly classified in our site.”

What kind of properties can get listed on Handiscover?

“We are a reliable partner providing vacation homes for guests looking for a calm, relaxed holiday. Our guests are typically families with one disabled child or a grandparent with a disability or limited mobility. So it is fundamentally important to us that our guests don’t have to face unexpected surprises regarding the accessibility of the property. Such a bad experience could completely ruin their stay. It’s imperative that homeowners fill out our accessibility questionnaire as thoroughly as possible, and we will take care to correctly classify their properties in terms of accessibility.”

Tell us more about the travellers who book on Handiscover.

“An average booking is for middle-income families of 3-5 people. The average stay is a week for holidays and 3 days for city breaks. For city trips, our guests usually look for an apartment in the city centre to avoid too much travel, especially if they have limited mobility. For longer holidays, a house is preferred.”


Are there quick fixes to make vacation rentals accessible?

“Definitely, they are some quite inexpensive fixes that will improve your property accessibility at least for part of the disabled community. A first one is having a ramp (does not need to be permanent construction) to cope with eventual steps to enter the building. The concrete constructions of the past are long gone now and you can get high-quality removable ramps for good prices. You can also get a handrail for the toilet (removable ones availale), a shower chair or a bench with grab rails for the bathtub. We see that the number of accessible vacation rentals is increasing, but not as fast as hotels which are more bound by regulations to a certain quota. Due to lack of accessibility knowledge, the vacation rental industry is a bit behind but could make a great leap forward investing in some inexpensive accessibility equipment.

Which are your most successful destinations today?

“Outside the U.K, which has been up until now our focus market on the consumer side, favourite destinations include big cities such as Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and then regions like Mallorca, Canaries, south France, Croatia, Florida and Thailand.”

What so successful property managers do differently?

“We have our own accessibility standard and accessibility questionnaire that you need to fill in so our algorithm can classify your properties. So having that accurately done and topped with great pictures of key areas of your properties that are defined on Handiscover are key for conversion.”

Where are you looking to expand?

“We are looking to deepen our supply in our current focus regions above and to build supply in Spain in all touristic areas, broaden us in France, Italy Croatian, Greece, and open up Germany, Nordic, the Carribean with Cuba in particular and in South Africa.”

How to connect to Handiscover with Rentals United?

“We pull new properties on a daily basis, so as soon as you register your account on Handiscover and indicate your Rentals United ID, you can be live within 24h.”

Here’s how it works:

– Upload your properties to Rentals United. Go to Services and add Handiscover
– Create an account with Handiscover and fill in the accessibility questionnaire
– Your properties will be uploaded by Rentals United
– Your rates, calendars and property info, including photos and amenities, will update automatically
– Commission: 10% from your rates


Start advertising your accessible properties on Handiscover and multiple listing sites.