Creating tours for the senior population who are considering an expatriate living experience is a new niche for the travel industry and one which has a lot of potential. As a tourist professional, if you are not yet participating in this niche market, now is a good time to add it to your offerings. The chief prerequisite is to be familiar with the general needs of the target population, and to have specific knowledge of or contacts in the prospective retirement locations in which you have interests.
The target group for this niche is not homogenous, but the prospective clients generally share a set of common needs. In most cases the need for specific information on a destination is more important than general knowledge about expatriate living. Living abroad requires fulfilling the same basic needs as in the home location plus any needs that may be specific to the new destination. The travel programs offered can be designed around these needs and are best begun by offering programs to the top rated retiree destinations.
There are numerous lists each year of the top ten retiree destinations. The organizations which make these lists take into consideration various criteria and the lists seldom have the same countries ranked in the same order. However, the top ten generally share most of the same destinations, but not necessarily in the same order. In the 2010 top ten lists, only one country, Panama, showed up on all four of the lists that I analyzed. Some of the topics that have to be included about their destination country follow.
What are the qualifications for entry, and is the country presently accepting new applicants?
What are the visa requirements and do they meet them? This includes personal and financial considerations.
They need to know specifics on housing, health care, educational institutions, banking institutions, and cost of living
Can they survive using only their native language or is the culture and language so different that they would have to learn the language first?
Is there a public transportation system readily accessible to all areas of interest in the country or would they need a car?
These questions are only a few of the many that have to be answered. To plan a comprehensive tour that caters to prospective expatriates, the training necessary to answer these basic questions must be included for them along with the specific travel arrangements.
Tour directors and tourist agencies are experts at hotel and travel arrangements, but might need a little more training in the prerequisite details for living abroad to provide a comprehensive experience to these new clients. It is here where establishing contacts with individuals or organizations possessing the specific knowledge base in the prospective destinations can make all the difference in the degree of success attained. If you are not already including this niche population in your planning, now is a good time to at least consider it.