Accessible Tourism: HomeGrown Tours creates a unique experience on Martha’s Vineyard
HomeGrown Tours is a Veteran- and woman-owned accessible tour company based in Oak Bluffs, MA. Below, the owner shares some details on their business and the importance of supporting local.
Describe your business
HomeGrown Tours is a unique and accessible tour company that brings the past to life through videos, photos, and items to ‘feel’ your way around our magical island and learn about the incredible history. We offer safety, fun, laughter, and we put smiles on their faces.
What makes your business unique?
HomeGrown Tours offers accessible tours for those that travel by wheelchair or have a disability that makes travel difficult. We have a wheelchair lift so everyone can sightsee and tour without any issues. Uniqueness is our middle name: HomeGrown Tours offers a new way to see and feel the past. At the front of the bus is a screen that shows what specific sites looked like in the 1800s. To “feel” your way through the tour, we pass around items that have to do with how we began and continue to live here. Amongst those wonderful new unique ways to tour, we also offer cold bottled water, light snacks, ponchos for those spot showers, and a place to charge your cell phone.
While we tour, we follow the past through maps, stories, laughter, fun, and learning. It’s so much fun for kids as well as adults. We do a special off-the-beaten-path tour for children who want to learn how to farm, fish, clam, etc. HomeGrown Tours is the most unique hands-on interactive tour on the planet!
Why is it important to support businesses like yours?
Accessible tourism should be available to everyone. When someone supports a business like mine, they get to know the people behind the product and what they have to offer while helping to keep the community unique and alive and better customer service. Supporting wheelchair accessibility helps define the issues and keep them up to date on awareness and what we can do to improve and increase availability to those in need.
What does your business look like?
HomeGrown Tours works from a phone reservation process, but we are also present in the community to offer shared tours to customers coming off the ferry. We have a spot where we are located for a reserved time, but mostly our services are by phone, email, and social media. When booking private tours, we come to the client for the pick-up, we’re flexible, and we adhere to the client’s schedule to make the event comfortable and easy.
Do you want to say anything to your customers or guests?
We welcome all to our unique adventure. No one is excluded from our special outings, and we will do whatever we can to accommodate. We also encourage a bit of constructive criticism to empower our ability to improve wherever we can.
How has your business changed or adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic?
HomeGrown Tours survived COVID-19. We made adjustments when necessary and made it possible to ensure safe touring. Our thoughts of improvising with virtual tours were a bit demanding, but we are still working on the possibility of having them take place for those that are not able to get out and tour. We are committed to keeping up-to-date on information from the CDC concerning the COVID-19 virus. We have installed hand sanitizer pumps at each vehicle’s front entrance and have sanitizer napkins available. We have created a plan to ensure cleanliness by spraying the seats and open area with sanitizing spray each time customers disembark the bus, as well as wiping down the railings, knobs, and seat armrests with disinfecting wipes.