United States: VillaKey has become a Certified Autism Centre, demonstrating the organisation’s commitment to ensuring their clients who have autism or sensory sensitivities will have the best possible experience.
This is the first vacation rental company globally to earn the CAC designation.
VillaKey has already helped families with children on the autism spectrum book vacation home rentals for several years but their commitment to serving those clients has been reinforced by completing the CAC programme, which includes evidence-based staff training, through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).
As a Certified Autism Centre, booking through VillaKey will ensure that parents’ concerns are heard and their needs understood by the company’s experts who will guide them.
Alice Horn, CEO of VillaKey, said: “We know from experience how challenging it can be for families living with autism to find the right place to stay when they travel. We are excited to be able to offer our families the privacy, calm and sense of security that can only be found in a vacation rental home.”
VillaKey’s current bases are in Florida and Colorado, with about 1,200 homes on the platform. The company will soon be expanding across the U.S. market and will place a focus on destinations and attractions that are appealing to autism families.
As well as the CAC training and certification, homes are carefully selected for the autism market and emphasise sensory-friendly decor, door chimes for security, fragrance-free cleaning products, and full kitchens for special diets. Service pets are also welcome in the homes.
VillaKey has partnered up with non-profit organisations to help families by contributing 10% from every booking to the VillaKey Cares fund. This will pay for travel expenses for families living with autism who may not be able to afford a vacation on their own otherwise.
IBCCES has been an industry leader in autism training for healthcare, education and corporate professionals worldwide for the last two decades. It recognised that many families with children with special needs have options and created programmes specifically for those industries.
In recent years, ‘autism-friendly’ options have grown in popularity but parents and families often seek out organisations that have completed additional research-based training or certification to ensure their needs can be met.
Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman, said: “Our Certified Autism Centre designation is awarded to premier organizations around the world who have gone above and beyond to ensure their guests have the best experience possible. We’re proud to work with VillaKey to offer even better travel experiences. Training and certification are so important to make sure these families’ needs are met.”