Growing travel business opportunities in Golden Years
by Irena Fuková
One travel agency that has realized the great potential of this group is Atis, which for 18 years has specialized in organizing stays mainly in the Czech and Slovak republics for all age categories.
Thanks to its experience with incoming foreign senior tourists, the company discovered a decade ago that the potential of this generation is enormous. They also saw that the trend for Czech seniors to travel would grow. “That is why we decided to offer trips for Czech seniors, as we were sure about the development of the demographic situation,” said Petr Krč, business and production director at Atis, adding that in order to reach people starting at age 50, the company calls the program for seniors the “vacation for mellowed age.”
Its latest novelty is a trip in the style of those organized by the former Czechoslovak socialist trade union Revolutionary Trade Union Movement (ROH) centered on Slovakia’s Hotel Morava, which was the former Sanatorium ROH Morava. A similar trip is featured in the famous 1955 propaganda comedy film “Anděl na horách” (Angel on the Mountains), which has a nostalgic appeal to the elderly generation. The program on the tour includes morning exercise, a debate with the mountain service and an evening get-together, all activities that correspond to events in the film. The price of the tour for seniors is Kč 4,490 (€ 165) without transportation. For younger people it costs Kč 500 more.
According to Krč, the vacation for mellowed age project is also advantageous for hotels and pensions as they often have problems filling rooms outside of the main season.
Several other travel firms are also tapping into the senior market. Vectors Czech on its Web page offers senior “wellness” trips. Travel agency Čedok offers sales for seniors, with up to a 50 percent discount for some tours. Čedok, established in 1920, is the largest Czech travel agency by sales and customer numbers.
Michal Tůma, marketing manager at online travel agency Invia.cz, said that in the future seniors will definitely be a driving force in the travel business. He mentioned that this phenomenon was already visible in Germany. Invia.cz, which sells tours from almost 300 travel agencies, has registered a variety of special offers for seniors, Tůma, said, but so far there is not a separate travel agency that is concentrating in this segment. “From time to time there are bouts of activity from some travel agencies,” Tůma said, adding that these are mostly trips to thermal spas in Slovakia and Hungary.
‘First minute tours’
According to Tomio Okamura, spokesman for the Association of Czech Travel Agencies (AČCKA), seniors focus on three main segments: “first minute” tours—as opposed to “last minute”—that can be ordered a long time ahead, something which poses no obstruction to seniors and enables the lowering of the price in return for an early payment; bus discovery tours around Europe, mainly to Paris; and trips to thermal spas in central Slovakia such as Turčianské Teplice or Lúčky, trips that offer relative short journey times and virtually no language barrier.
International statistics show that 14 percent of all tourism income globally comes from senior travelers, Okamura said. In the European Union, the ratio is even higher, at some 18 percent. But unlike German senior tourists, Czechs are more interested in tours priced up to Kč 10,000, which is rather below the average price, Okamura added. An average trip in the Czech Republic costs Kč 14,500, AČCKA calculated.
Atis’ Krč, however, said that low price is not always the most important criterion for seniors. “They always appreciate additional services and special treatment,” Krč said.