27 Jun Some extracts from DiscOver55 Handbook
Lessons learnt and recommendations for devising a senior tourism product
The handbook was drafted under the supervision of the project partner and senior organization GEFAS STEIERMARK based in Graz, Austria. GEFAS is a non-profit organization founded in 1991 that raises awareness and spreads information about active ageing for an enjoyable quality of life. GEFAS answers elderly people’s needs and wishes, promoting various social initiatives and projects related to: lifelong learning, active citizenship, gender empowerment, sports and health and inter-generationality. GEFAS, by working with both institutions and the target group, effectively mediates between seniors’ concerns and policies affecting seniors’ quality of life.
General Information about Senior Testers
The average age of the participants was 68.2 years. This is a relatively old group compared to previous studies funded by the EU. In the project ESCAPE, where 900 seniors participated in a survey, the majority was between 55 and 65 years old. The age group that was chosen for our pilot test is an important one, because at around the age of 70 on average travelling becomes a little bit challenging and package providers have to know about the needs of this target group.
The group was very used to travelling abroad. Only 6 out of 56 participants did not travel abroad every year and the average number of journeys abroad within the last three years was 5.6.
Preferences and Priorities for Seniors on Journey
Since seniors rate themselves as very communicative, most interested in nature and historic sites and that they are very open to getting to know something new, it is not surprising that they said that the most important reason for choosing a particular type of trip is the opportunity to learn something about the country, the people and the customs. They have a strong expectation that the trip will broaden their horizon and give them new impressions. Other points they rate as very interesting are sightseeing/educational travel and countryside/natural attractions. Asked about the accompanying program, they prefer visits to museums. Corresponding to their high interest in communication, they like activities like singing and dancing and above all, they rate communication in different languages as being very important.
In respect to particular needs of seniors, it is noticeable that in the initial questionnaire the wish to go on a journey specifically tailored for seniors is rather small. Also, the questions concerning flexibility in planning, importance of medical care at the travel destination and need for help with luggage the answers draw a very self-confident picture of the testers. A well organized arrival at the destination and frequent breaks during the program though are important to them.
The handbook is downloadable in 5 languages from DiscOver55 website www.discover55.eu
 ESCAPE – European Senior Citizens’ Actions to Promote Exchange in tourism, http://www.escape2europe.eu/sites/default/files/ESCAPE_Deliv6_ReportNeedsInterests.pdf, (2017-04-10)