TOURage 3rd Annual Conference states seniors as the opportunity in tourism market

Monday, May 26, 2014

TOURage project organized its 3rd Annual Conference on May 13th in Rzeszów (Poland), hosted by the Marshal`s Office of Podkarpackie Region. All the conference participants were welcomed by the host organisation and were introduced with TOURage project by the project manager Ms. Ulla Äänismaa. The conference addressed the theme of senior tourism market and highlighted that seniors are an important target group in the tourism sector, encouraging entrepreneurs and other tourism actors to develop new tourism products and services for the senior segment or improve already existing ones or even involve seniors in the process of creating new tourism offers.

Two parallel discussion panels were organized to discuss if there is suitable offer aimed towards senior tourists how these products and services are marketed and if there is a proper staff and infrastructure for aged tourists.  During the conference Mr. Jarosław  Reczek from Podkarpackie region presented 5 good practices from their region offered for other project partners for evaluation and possible transfer.

Furthermore, Mr. Zoltán  Balogh from Észak-Alföld Regional Development Agency (Hungary) shared the results of the TOURage foreign senior questionnaire which was answered by 1029 respondents most of them coming from Germany, United Kingdom and USA. Naturally high season for seniors to travel is summer but also springtime and autumn are fairly common tourist seasons. It is also good to know that foreign senior tourists are looking for safety and security when visiting other countries, also good quality services are very important. Mr. Krzysztof Szpara from the University of Information Technologies and Management in Rzeszów (Poland) presented the main results of the research done in Podkarpackie region during the TOURage project telling that they are not very diverse from main research done in TOURage project.

Later on Mrs. Joanna Zielińska-Szczepkowska from University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn (Poland) told that due to the demographic changes and ageing in whole Poland, also Warmia and Mazury region has taken measures to improve senior tourism saying that it is a time  for new challenges. Several types of tourism have been recognized in the region – active, adventure, religious, also health tourism etc., so every need of tourists are satisfied. There are several activities organized in the region targeted to the seniors, one of the most popular at the moment is the international ”Warmia Mazury Senior games” which is also one of the TOURage project’s good practices.

Also Mr. Jerzy Rut from the University of Rzeszów agreed that there are several types of tourists, including senior tourists and this should be remembered when selling and marketing tourism products. It is clear that all tourism products offered to seniors should be well planned because this target group has wide experience in travelling and has high quality requirements. Religious tourism is appealing for seniors and they like visiting sacred places. It is also important to note, these kinds of attractions can be easily included in the overall cultural tourism offers in order to create a balanced tourism offer.

When presenting plans to develop and strengthen tourism in the Region of East Macedonia & Thrace (Greece), Mr. Spyridon Arseniou stated that, according to their experience, seniors are travelers with habits, preferences and goals similar to those of the general population – while there are some needs and demands, only small proportion of this group requires really sophisticated services or equipment. Being convinced that high-quality services and accessible solutions are very important for this group, Region of East Macedonia & Thrace is going to promote more developed accessible tourism offer for seniors in this region. Later on, Mr. Arseniou presented also five good practices relating to senior tourism in the Region of East Macedonia & Thrace.

Last but not least, Ms. Aija van der Steina from University of Latvia presented market segmentation, travel behaviour and marketing mix in tourism market for senior travelers. Ms. Van der Steina reminded that seniors are a very important target group already now and later on this group will become even bigger. It should be remembered that seniors of todayare much more active than they were before. In her presentation Ms. Aija van der Steina pointed out that gender marketing is important, because high numbers of senior travelers are women. Seniors’ needs should be researched well enough to be able to develop new products for them. She also stressed that seniors may even avoid using services and products which are marketed as especially suited and developed for older people. A strong advice – when offering a new product to seniors, tell them more about what they will receive when using this product not that this product is produced especially for those who are old.

All the presentations will be soon available in the TOURage website: . A summary of the Annual conference will be issued to inform about the interesting facts and main conclusions of each presentation.