Receiving an invitation from a stranger to attend a “Community Dinner,” hosted in your own town nonetheless, does not happen very often. Especially when he is writing to you from thousands of miles away in Phoenix, AZ!
What was the purpose of this Community Dinner and how did they find out about ABC Medical?
Here is the story behind it.
Brett Heising, a passionate traveler and the founding father of brettapproved, Inc. was traveling to Philadelphia to meet the leaders of the local disability community and to present the mission of brettapproved. He heard about ABC Medical's involvement in the community and was kind enough to save a spot for us at the dinner table.
In October 2015, I attended the country's first ever brettapproved community dinner, which was hosted at the Bellini Italian Bistro in Center City Philadelphia. Other than the delicious Italian food I was about to have, I did not know what to expect, to be honest!
Life is full of strange encounters that open up unexpected opportunities. I am glad I accepted Brett's kind invitation to attend this dinner, proudly representing my company ABC Medical, a leading urological supply provider.
I not only met some incredible local people here in Philly, but I also learned about how brettapproved could potentially change the experience of traveling for people with disabilities. Their motto is "Travel confidently with the accessible info you need!" Check out the photo below from that wonderful evening!
Bellini Italian Bistro in Center City Philadelphia hosts the first brettapproved Community Dinner
I am excited to share our interview with the CEO of brettapproved, Brett Heising.
I hope that you take a moment to check out their website and perhaps rate a restaurant you recently visited or write a review someday. Enjoy your read!
Our Conversation with Brett Heising, CEO of brettapproved, Inc.
Brett Heising, CEO of brettapproved, Inc.
IT: Tell us your background and what led you to launch brettapproved, Inc.?
BH: I never dreamed of being an entrepreneur. I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, a specialization in Public Relations and a minor in Political Science. I enjoyed a successful career and I was happy with my career trajectory.
Then, everything changed. I took a business trip to San Francisco, booked a room with a roll-in shower, called in advance to confirm it but when I arrived – you guessed it – there was no roll-in shower. The hotelier found me a room in another hotel.
That was the instant in which I became an entrepreneur. I knew complaining wouldn’t solve anything … I had to address the issue head-on. So I left my job in corporate America and started brettapproved®.com. I literally started a company because I wanted to take a shower! :)
IT: How does brettapproved work?
BH: At brettapproved everything is powered by the brettscore™, which is an algorithm that produces a score, based on accessibility features of a specific location from 1-10. The higher the score, the more accessible a destination. But here’s the cool part: if something gets a low score, we’re not saying, “don’t go,” we’re simply saying, “be ready.” Knowing what to expect when you arrive makes a huge difference in having a great time.
Our site is predicated on user-generated content. It’s only as good as the information our users provide. So we owe a huge debt of thanks to our loyal community of users for contributing to the site. Signing up is free. Click Join today and get started!
IT: What makes brettapproved different from other review websites?
BH: What makes us different is that we focus on the “positive.” By that, I mean, most reviews seem to be posted when people are upset; it’s a way to vent. While this feels good in the short-term, we’re taking a long-term view of things. Being negative doesn’t accomplish our goal of enjoying more places and making travel easier for everyone. So we encourage our community members to tell us about hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues that do work, so we know where to spend our money.
We’re attacking this challenge economically because no matter who they are, people aren’t taken seriously until they flex their collective economic muscle. People with physical disabilities spend $165 billion annually on travel and entertainment. Our goal is to help more people with physical disabilities travel confidently. If we do this, there’s no doubt that number will increase.
IT: How can someone become a brettapproved reviewer?
BH: It’s really simple. Join today and get started! It’s free to join. If anyone has any questions about the process they can email me directly: email@example.com. I love connecting with our community members.
IT: How do you define growth at brettapproved and what are you doing to make it grow?
BT: We’re leveraging social media and word of mouth. Our latest social media campaign reached thousands of people and resulted in more than 12,000 people becoming part of the brettapproved community in just a few weeks.
We also do a great deal of grass roots marketing. Examples include the first-ever brettapproved Community Dinner in Philadelphia last October. We also had a presence at the Abilities Expo in Los Angeles in February. And of course, I travel to conferences all over the world. Recently, brettapproved was selected to participate and pitch at Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland. We had 5 team members there and met hundreds of people, all of whom were excited about our work.
In terms of making brettapproved grow, we’re continuing our marketing efforts and we have a robust plan in 2016. The future is bright and I think it’s because brettapproved is an idea whose time has come!
IT: What is your vision for the company?
BH: In five years I expect brettapproved to have a community of about ½ million people or more. People of all abilities will be able to book hotels reviewed by their fellow brettapproved community members. They’ll have all the tips and inside knowledge they’ll need to optimize their travel and entertainment experiences. We’ll be tackling ground transportation, a major issue for people in chairs. We’re already seeking out global partners to provide reliable, affordable rides. There’s a lot of work to do.
We’ll offer tour packages specifically designed for people with varying mobility challenges and there will be a brettapproved marketplace for all kinds of products and services around travel and entertainment.
In short, we’re just getting warmed up. It’ll be a fun ride! I look forward to taking the journey with the entire brettapproved community.
IT: What advice do you give to other people with physical disabilities who are curious to travel but are hesitating?
BH: Traveling with a disability isn’t easy but nothing in life worth doing is. So I’d say just know going in that it’s going to be a challenge and plan accordingly. Quadruple check with the airline before your flight, take extra wheelchair parts. Be kind, but persistent with the hotel you’ve chosen so you have the accommodations you’ll need. Book directly with the hotel; if there’s a problem with your room the hotel can address it directly. Most of all have fun or if you’re traveling for work … close the deal close the deal and arrive home safely. If you have questions: email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll help any way I can.