Senior citizens

Date of publication: June 15, 1991


There is no doubt: The "Senior Citizens Market" is growing all over Europe. Thus developing specific marketing strategies and the adaptation of the touristical offer to the prospective needs of the elderly tourists are becoming more and more important. Corresponding to this situation, recently some market research projects have been put on their way not only showing the growing number of senior citizens but also trying to evaluate specific aspects of the actual "senior travel behaviour", on the (implicit) assumption of a close relationship between the actual and future travel behaviour of this group. A reanalysis of results of the German yearly travel analysis ("Reiseanalyse", a representative yearly survey based on some 6 interviews, commissioned and supervised by the Studienkreis fur Tourismus, Stamberg) over the last 20 years allows for the warning, that this assumption might be misleading. Touristical demand and travel behaviour is not mainly determined by age but by generation. Within the second half of life-span the travel behaviour of a generation seems to be rigid, i.e. people stick to their "ancient", once learned travel behaviour, not changing it with growing age. The argument is supported by a simple method of time series analysis showing that e.g. travel propensity or patterns of choice of holiday destinations remain the same over up to twenty years for a given generation. The conclusion is that forecasts concerning travel behaviour of future senior citizens are rather simple. E.g. the actual travel behaviour (including expectations, motivations, aspirations) of people now aged between 55 and 65 years allows for a prediction of the prospective travellers aged 65 to 75 years in the year 2000

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