11 Considerations for Senior Clients Before They Travel

Those reluctant to start or resume traveling in their golden years may need a little nudge, says our columnist.

By Bryce Sanders
Bryce Sanders
Bryce Sanders

We just came back from vacation. Although I am 67 years old, I am still working. My wife and I enjoy travel, which has almost returned to those relaxed pre-Covid days. If you are a senior, here are some tips on how to take more trips for less money. If you are a financial advisor, this is a good conversation starter to get clients off the couch and onto planes and ships.

Inflation has made everything more expensive back home. It’s a worldwide issue. It’s not going away, so trying to wait it out and hope prices will go down might not be the best idea. Take the plunge! Here are two sayings that drive that point home.

  1. No one on his deathbed has ever said, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”
  2. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

Here are eleven thoughts for your retired (or semi-retired) client to consider.  Let’s imagine they are not sold on the idea of traveling and are voicing concerns.

Cruising

1. Are cruise lines careful about Covid?

I can answer this from personal experience. We recently sailed with Cunard from Southampton (UK) to New York. The cruise required all passengers be vaccinated and boosted, plus show a negative Covid test result taken 24 hours prior to departure. Logically, this implies all passengers and crew have tested negative for Covid. Ships still avoid holding large gatherings such as the traditional captain’s welcome cocktail party. On our cruise, seating in the dining room was focused on tables for two.  Although protocols may vary by cruise line and port destinations., they are trying.

2. Is trying to get a cabin like trying to get tickets for the Super Bowl?

Airlines cut back flights during the pandemic. When demand returned, they focused on filling every seat instead of adding more planes. The cruise industry is different. There are lots of big ships and several more under construction, soon to enter service. There should be plenty of choice and availability. If you live near a homeport, another advantage is you can drive to the ship.

3. Can I still get a good deal?

Are they going to copy the hotel and restaurant industry, pushing prices sky high as if they are trying to recoup three years of lost revenue in three months?  No. In the hotel and restaurant industries, the empty room or dining table on Monday might be occupied by big spenders on Tuesday. However, once a cruise ship leaves the dock, empty cabins provide zero revenue for the duration of the voyage.  Not only do they lose out on fares, they lose the incidental spending of passengers during the cruise.

Most cruise lines offer “sailing soon savings.”  You might work through a travel agent or shop online to find deals.  Cruise ships list them on their websites and cruise consolidators have search features aggregating the data and prices in an easy to search format.

4. Will I get stuck in a cabin the size of a broom closet?

No because most cabins are the same. Your client might remember the days when cheap cabins on cruise ships were awkwardly shaped. Some were very tiny! Cabins on today’s cruise ships are similar to Lego blocks. Sizes are pretty uniform. It is tough to get a bad cabin.

5. I am not fond of rug rats.

Let us remember that children are a blessing. If older clients have difficulty walking, discovering several young people playing hockey in the corridor can be disconcerting.  Several cruise lines have targeted the “adult market.” This can be tactfully translated as “People whose children have grown.” You can easily find yourself on a ship where the dominant age range is 60 to 80.

6. At my age, I have trouble walking.

That’s what makes cruise ships a logical alternative. Once you are onboard, decks are flat and elevators take you everywhere. Because the industry often caters to an older clientele, shore excursions are clearly graded in terms of mobility difficulty.

Touring

1. Are airfares always expensive?

No. If you live in a major financial center like New York City, you will find the JFK to LHR (London Heathrow) corridor is very competitive in price. If you checkout sites like airfarewatchdog.com, you might find roundtrip fares are in the $500+ range.

2. I never liked organized tours.

Taking a city break in a world capital can be an easy alternative. In cities frequented by business travelers, hotels can be cheaper on the weekends. These cities are often rail transportation hubs, so you can visit other cities or regional rail or intercity trains. The Europeans have great, modern trains.

3. I only like organized tours.

You are in luck. You see the ads all the time. Organized tours run the gambit from inexpensive mass market tours to luxury operations like Abercrombie and Kent. Travel expert Rick Steves shares his thoughts here. FYI: He offers tours too.

4. “Those people” don’t speak English.

English is the international language of business. In many European cities you will find people are bilingual and the second language is English.  According to Pew Research, 91% of European children were studying English in primary or secondary school in 2017.

If you are still hesitant, consider visiting a country where English is the primary language, such as the UK and Ireland . And rest assured: Regardless of the county, if someone is selling you something (hotels, restaurants, stores), they have English speakers on staff.

5. I will probably not like the food.

Didn’t you see the movie “Shirley Valentine”? (1989) The premise was a British woman set up a restaurant in Greece selling food British tourists preferred to eat, like egg and chips.  Marriott Hotels tend to have a policy at their hotels throughout the world. If there is a Marriott-run restaurant onsite, the Marriott Burger will be on every menu. You can get familiar food regardless of where you travel.

Older clients may have another major concern: What if I run into a problem and need cash overseas? Remind them to contact their debit/credit card issuers before they travel so they have no problem accessing their funds while overseas. Without advance notification, issuers are more likely to question or stop withdrawals and charges coming from other countries. If a client needs further assistance and your firm has offices in financial centers overseas, your client can call you and you can call the local office. Your client should be able to get help.

The key message is now the pandemic risks have lessened, your clients should take steps to enjoy life again. You can give them a gentle nudge in that direction.

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” is available on Amazon.  

 

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