Recent findings show that active senior citizens travel differently based on how they use tourism-related information and communication technology.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland and Jyvaskyla University of Applied Sciences, found that the way these active senior explorers use this technology before, during and after a trip can help categorize them into three groups: the adventurous experimenter, meticulous researcher, and the fumbling observer.
The importance of senior travellers as a travel segment for the tourism industry is continuously growing as the number of pensioners increases in the Western world. Today’s pensioners are also very different from those a decade ago.
“Today’s pensioners are familiar with computers and information technology, as they have used them when they were active in working life. Moreover, today’s pensioners are more affluent and more experienced travellers than earlier generations. We refer to them as active senior travellers, because they have time, money, skills, interest and health to travel,” says Research Manager Juho Pesonen of the University of Eastern Finland Centre for Tourism Studies.
The study is based on nine interviews with senior travellers, selected by snowball sampling (i.e., existing interviewees recommending future ones). The interviews were used to create matrices on the use of technology and tourism, allowing the respondents to be divided into three groups: the Adventurous Experimenters, the Meticulous Researchers and the Fumbling Observers.
“The Adventurous Experimenters are confident both in choosing their destination and using information technology. They are independent travellers who like to try out new destinations and avoid ready-made travel packages. The Meticulous Researchers, on the other hand, use technology mainly to search for information, and they appreciate safety and user-friendliness both when it comes to technology and their destination. The Fumbling Observers, however, are less keen to use technology and they often require assistance in using it. This group is the one that prefers ready-made travel packages and familiar destinations,” Pesonen explains.
An interesting observation of the study was that the use of technology is closely linked to travel behaviour. Furthermore, senior travellers should not be seen as a homogeneous group preferring ready-made packages, but as a diverse group with varying preferences for travel.
The findings were published in Information Technology and Tourism.