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Long-term trips are not only for seniors!

A sizeable market for tourism professionals to capitalize on

When we talk about long-term tourism we generally think of seniors and retired travelers who spend a few months at a time abroad for a winter in the sun. They make up a large portion of the market. But this trend is also true for families and business travelers. A segment that is developing and that some tourism professionals certainly to not want to miss out on.

Rédigé par Pierre Coronas translated by Joséphine Foucher le Lundi 30 Juin 2014

While seniors represent a large portion of long-term travels, business travelers are also very important for actors in this market - DR: © Monkey Business -
While seniors represent a large portion of long-term travels, business travelers are also very important for actors in this market - DR: © Monkey Business -
For different reasons, some travelers go abroad for an extended stay.

They represent a sizeable market for tourism professionals. So much so that some tour-operators, such as FRAM, Thomas Cook, or Méditrad, for example, devote a portion of their production to this phenomenon.

Other actors in the sector have even decided to dedicate their entire activity to this market.

This is the case of L’Hirondelle. This travel agency specialized in seasonal migrations was founded in August 2012 and started running in 2013. It has won the prize of the CERED’s 2nd New Talents competition.

Its products are aimed at retirees. But they are not destined to be a substitution for retirement homes.

Trips that are not substitutes for retirement homes

“People who settle in retirement homes and those that engage in long trips with us do not have the same profile, insured Mathilde Tenneroni, co-founder of L’Hirondelle. Our clientele is younger. The median age is between 60 and 75 years old.”

They turn to the agency’s services for 1 to 6 month-long trips. Their desire is to usually spend winter in the sun.

“This allows them to save on heating expenses and to load up on vitamins” adds Mathilde Tenneroni.

For its first winter, L’Hirondelle has helped around 20 clients organize their stay abroad. Offers in Morocco and Mauritius were the most popular.

They are now preparing for the 2014/2015 Winter season. It should be much busier for the agency since it is launching new destinations including Spain and the Dominican Republic and has already initiated contact with 900 potential clients.

It is also hoping to begin trips in Portugal. “This destination is popular this year, especially for year-long stay,” notes the agency’s co-founder.

But before deciding to settle in a country in which to spend full or partial retirement, one must first visit it. This is why L’Hirondelle offers 3 types of products: long-term stays, an initiation before settling, and settlement.

“We do not want to place our clients in retirement homes, continues Mathilde Tenneroni. We offer a life experience without protecting them from what is different from home.

We do not specialize in medical tourism, or retirement homes abroad. Our clientele is active and resourceful.”

The travelers are encouraged to participate in volunteer programs to be involved in the local life and ease their integration during the stay.

Cruises for intergenerational vacations

Amongst other tourism actors that establish long term stays are cruising companies.

To diversify their clientele and develop this market, some companies offer circuits of different lengths. For this reason, in the fall 2014, MSC Croisières will launch 3 “Large Transatlantic Trips” of 15 to 20 nights onboard the Musica, Lirica, and the Poesia.

As for Costa Croisière it is expanding its offer of long itineraries in the scope of its NeoCollection. They target a clientele of “couples of 45 years old and above”, explains Georges Azouze, CEO of Costa Croisières France.

“It is obvious that long-term cruises interest more seniors than short cruises, he continues. But our cruises are not designed for seniors only.”

He explains that the Costa clientele fragments itself naturally depending on the length and destination of the circuits.

Furthermore, the ships that provide the long trips such the World Tour in 100 days, the Tour of Africa in 60 days or the Transatlantics are generally smaller and provide a more intimate atmosphere. Which fits more the expectations of a senior clientele.

However there is no question of talking about “ghettoization” for the CEO of Costa Croisières France: “cruising is, by definition, an intergenerational mode of vacation. Everyone can find its rhythm. Which is why many families, and tribes, decide to travel together.”

Older people can enjoy theme-based excursions with small groups and unique discoveries. Onboard, they can experience personalized services and suitable entertainment.

Furthermore, “cruising allows to carry out a trip without having to take the plane”, adds George Azouze. A type of vacation that brings comfort and peacefulness to senior clients. “But that is also the case for young children”, specifies the CEO France.

The cases of retirees who prefer accumulating cruises rather than going to retirement homes, as was the case in a story featured on many blogs, still remain a rarity.

George Azouze remembers a woman who had initially embarked for a five-day cruise in the Mediterranean. At the end of her trip, she refused to get off the ship and made the arrangement to extend her vacation. She ended up doing 5 consecutive cruises.

“It was very moving. She seemed to be on a carousel. We could have made a commercial out of it. But this is an extremely rare case,” he tells us.

Business travelers look for Apartment-hotels

Retirees are not the only clients interested in long-term trips.

Business travelers also use them a lot. Some spend a few weeks at a time far from home for professional purposes.

Consequently, they need accommodation. Which some hotel chains have grasped. This is the case of the Apartment-Hotels of Adagio.

“30% of our clients in 2013 did a long stay of more than a month, for a majority of business clients”, estimates a spokesperson of Apartment-hotels of Adagio.

It concerns doctors, technology consultants, mainly coming from India. But also from the UK, Italy, Germany, or France.

They stay in the Adagio institutions that offer higher-end services than those of Adagio Access.

“This phenomenon of month-long stays or more is witnessing a high increase on our brand, thanks to corporations”, observes the spokesperson of the Apartment-hotels of Adagio.

So, in order to keep this market prospering, Adagio is being very attentive to business travelers.

For example, they receive a “Welcome Pack”, a basket in the apartment that includes a meal made with local organic products and a cosmetics kit. Professionals wishing to stay in the brand’s accommodations can also benefit of a reservation tool created only for 1 to 3 month long stays.
A Twitter Adagio Business account is also reserved to them. “It is an added service of personalized assistance, explains the spokesperson of the Apartment-hotels of Adagio. Answers are provided to all types of questions the client may have.”

On top of that, there is no requirement for a deposit, or notice. Finally, another highlight for the business travelers at Adagio is that a spokesperson of the Apartment-hotels is available to help set-up the apartments appropriately to receive guests or organize work meetings with an office desk, a telephone line, and free Internet access.

If we add students who go abroad for months at a time on linguist trips, we realize that the market for long stay trips still has an interesting growth potential. It would be a shame for tourism professionals to not capitalize on it!

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