27 Apr Evaluation of the pilot test results and lessons gathering
During autumn 2016 4 pilot tests were organized, one in each of the participating countries (Italy, Austria, Slovenia and Finland), in which groups of senior people tried and tested the trips and the activities. 14 people from each country were selected, and crossed testings of the destinations were arranged, between Italy and Finland, and between Slovenia and Austria.
The tutors of the trips submitted two kind of questionnaire to the seniors participating in the tests, one at the beginning and one at the end of the trips.
From the results of the initial questionnaires we found out:
Seniors find mostly important in a trip to visit scenic landscape views, to try out new things and to live in close touch with nature. Their attitude towards travelling is quite traditional, they want to visit sightseeing (famous places, castles,…), to learn about the country, the people, customs and to discover culture, history etc (educational travel).
In general what is important for seniors on journey is a well-organised arrival at the destination, local guides speaking their mother tongue, the quality of the accomodation and to visit countryside and natural attractions.
In particular from the various questionnaires :
Austrian People enjoyed program and activities in Slovenia: a trip to Piran and a tour through Izola as well as visiting Hrastovleje church and a farm with its animals and degustation of its olives. The tight schedule of the sightseeing program (too long!) as well as the accessibility of the hotel and the hotel room has been disliked. Additionally changing of the program on short notice has been disliked, others appreciated this practice.
The Austrian group rated the trip to Slovenia as recommendable for seniors; they loved fun and the good atmosphere as well as the rich program offer. Many participants enjoyed the comprehensive sightseeing program and the friendly, competent guides and the hotel staff.
Some participants enjoyed the rich program offers, others wished to have less program including longer breaks per day. Also more cultural program and sports would have been favoured. At the accommodation facilities for disabled (like emergency buttons in the shower) as well as native-language information would have been required. The railway station in Ljubljana was rated as not senior-appropriate, and the program on departure day was overloaded.
Slovenian people enjoyed the following program highlights most: Vulcano factory, Zotter Manufacture, Kornberg castel , a geological museum, a walk in the forest, visiting the advent market and singing in the city hall. Also a Handcraft workshop was highly appreciated as well as social activities, like meditation exercises when visiting meeting Helga and Joseph. Zotter Manufacture was ambivalent seen and there was also bad weather, including a slippery path during the walk to Kapfstein castle. Missing emergency equipment during the walk in the forest as well as inconsistent information of meeting place and performance at the city hall Performance has been criticised.
Furthermore one participant complained on menus, brochures and TV, which were only available in German, but they highly appreciated their Slovene waitress in the Cafe. Slovenian participants mostly liked the good location, the rich and interesting program and the tour group itself. They enjoyed the well chosen, adapted and implemented tour program. The participants appreciated the very friendly hosts and locals as well as the out standing organization of the tour.
Others wished to have more program varieties to choose from and some would have liked to meet local seniors. There were also complaints on locations, which were not suitable for seniors, because of slippery paths and steps during the forest walk. Inconsistent program information at the last event caused insecurity and unease within some group members.
The Finnish group liked the program very much: visiting Lucca, a monastery, the Pisa tower and a olive farm. The good atmosphere in the group was highly appreciated. They appreciated having no hurry during sightseeing activities and disliked too much walking and having no time to rest. Also bad weather conditions (rain while a walking tour) were disliked by most of the participants.
In sum Finnish people appreciated the sights in Italy most, especially Pisa, Calci Charterhouse and Lucca. They also enjoyed the guides and the good atmosphere within the group. What the participants did not like was the hotel´s location outside the town (so transfers were needed). Additionally meeting locals seniors, listening to local music and more shopping possibilities would have been appreciated. What the participants did not like, were bad weather conditions, when visiting Pisa as well as they wished more food varieties in the Hotel.
Italian people enjoyed the following program most: Visit of Olavlinna Castle, a forest museum, lunch at the travel guides private cottage, an evening show and a cruise at Saima lake. Social interactions with Italian studying women was highly appreciated, for to get to know Finnish people and the lack of language barriers. Further HIghlights of the activity program was Nordic walking and a walking tour along a lake. Some people did not enjoy the food (variety, temperature, freshness), other participants comments, the short time planning for the museum and the cultural program itself.
Additionally they highly appreciated the country and its friendly people. The trip to Finland was assessed very well organized by the participants and as a great, new and interesting experience. People liked the welcoming and friendly atmosphere and the people in the visiting country. Also nature and meeting local people was appreciated by the group members. For some of the participants the journey to the country itself took too long. Some of them wished more guides, speaking their mother tongue.
The overall results of the final questionnaire revealed that 61% of participants rated their trips as excellent, 29% as rather good but 9% did not answer – nobody can be forced to answer. Regarding the ratings for daily activities: 72% of participants rated them as “great”, while 27% as “quite o.k.” (First and last day were generally better rated); 64% of participants would recommend their tour to their best friend. Everybody, finally, agreed that tutors had done an excellent job.