|Alternative Tourism Specialist Rides to the Rescue!|
virtually every survey of the hottest business ventures of the early 21st
century, tourism has been identified as a leading contender. However, there
is also a prediction that an increasing number of travelers will be detouring
around the obvious relaxation destinations and activities in search of vacation
opportunities with an interactive, educational flavor. As futurists have
been predicting for several years, "alternative" tourism, namely ecological,
educational, cultural and volunteer vacationing, is both infiltrating and
overtaking mainstream tourism in many regions of the world, offering stimulating
travel through an entirely different set of vacation eyeglasses.
From major international players to small-scale grassroots operators, there will be many strategic paths to enter the alternative tourism market for the first time, to re-position or expand existing vacation business interests, and to flourish if it is done right. Success depends upon a clear identification of clienteles to be targeted and a firm grasp of how best to meet their needs and special interests.
|As a longtime small business journalist, travel journalist and magazine editor (Canadian Maturity, Home Business Report, Transitions Abroad), Alison Gardner has directed her professional efforts over the past decade to understanding and serving the two most formidable tourism clienteles on earth—men and women 50 years old and better, and women travelers over 35. Since 1990 in particular, she has witnessed an incredible growth in ecological, educational, cultural and volunteer vacation interests, largely driven by these two audiences.|
|In 2000 Alison unveiled a definitive 575-page guidebook
on alternative vacationing around the world, Travel Unlimited: Uncommon
Adventures for the Mature Traveler, a research tool that has proved
to be of great value to older vacationers and to travel agents and planners.
Spending a great deal of time in the field both researching and advising,
she takes every opportunity to speak with and listen to tour operators
and accommodation providers of every size, personally observing what
works and what does not.
For four years, Alison has also been an active Associate of the Rural Futures consulting team, www.ruralfutures.ca/ourassociates.htm, whose theater of contracting services is focused on Western Canada. Her latest contracts have been associated with the development of historic mining tourism and Indigenous cultural experiences.
In 2006, Alison served as a consulting panelist on the National Geographic's Destination Stewardship Survey providing experiential feedback on the tourism health of UNESCO World Heritage destinations. In 2007 she was a consulting panelist on the tourism health of strategic islands around the world, in 2008 for historic places rated as tourism destinations, and in 2009 as a panelist for a re-assessment of iconic places survey.
|Alison is always delighted to share with tourism professionals wherever she goes, the many success stories and innovative ideas she has gleaned on her travels from Australia to Alaska, from Madagascar to Costa Rica, from the Amazon to the Arctic Circle. Combining a deep appreciation of the proven interests and travel styles of women and older adults with a passion for communicating the marketing message, Alison's special consulting services are outlined below.|
of website design, content, spelling and punctuation (no tourism website
should be showcased without this step being taken, and revisited as often
as changes are made to a site - mistakes definitely become part of the message!).
Review of existing print promotional materials and informational packages.
Review of promotional DVDs and videos and consultation on development of new visual materials.
Development of fresh marketing materials in print and on the Web.
Consultation on tour programming and appropriate pacing for an older clientele and for women travelers.
Creation of knock-out mission or vision statements which will keep operator partners and employees on track, and attract a loyal travel clientele.
Guide and tour leader training in communication and service to older clients and to women, especially those traveling on their own.
Retooling and modifying conventional tourism services to attract an alternative tourism audience-no, it is not necessary to turn your business upside down to become attractive to a whole new alternative travel clientele.
The Clients Speak .....
and full-day workshops on marketing to the mature traveler.
Half-day and full-day workshops on writing for the mature traveler.
Presentations to trade show and annual general meetings on the rapidly expanding market for alternative travel (ecological, educational, cultural, and volunteer vacations).
Consultation services to policy makers and strategic planners in government and industry on generating small-scale, low impact tourism to create grassroots employment and build pride in skills at the community level.
Review of existing tourism materials, websites, and audio/visual tools.
Strategies for attracting visitors to areas where geography and climate may not be saleable attractions - this is the magic of alternative tourism!
The Clients Speak .....
|In a recent Copy Editor newsletter survey designed to direct editors searching for politically correct words for their publications, 803 American men and women ages 50 to 75 were asked for preferred labeling of their age group. Seniors, Older Adults, and Older Americans were the top three choices with 32%, 20%, and 15% respectively. Identified among the most objectionable labels were The Elderly (38%), Golden Agers (20%), and Retirees (6%). How are you, your tour leaders and guides addressing this critical audience in print, on the Web, and in person?|
More Food for Thought: What Travelers Fear Most
|In a recent Harris poll, outdoor enthusiasts shared their "fear inducers" when they hit the road, trail or skies. You may well identify with some of these yourself. Each one listed is followed by the percentage of respondents who want to keep such close encounters to a minimum in their memorable itineraries:|
Being alone in the forest 41%
Plane travel 35%
|This list brings to mind a wonderful anonymous quote: "With fear you can go around the world and experience nothing; without fear you can go around the corner and experience the whole world."|
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Page updated: 30 June 2015
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