International Tourism Hotel for Elderly Service: Internal Marketing Practicing


The elderly tourist in this research is identified as men and women aged above 65 years who tour different tourism destinations for leisure. This intend seeks to find out if hotels realize the importance of hiring the right staff, training them appropriately, and motivating them to provide hospitality services that meet the needs and expectations of the elderly tourist.

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In hotels, internal marketing practices are seen as a prerequisite for success in external marketing activities (Groonroos, 2001; Parasuranan, 1987). Some of the activities that are considered as part of the internal marketing process include: disseminating marketing information to the employees of a hotel; implementing a recognition and reward system to motivate employees; implementing a marketing approach in HR management as well as establishing a service culture among the employees (Jones, 1986; Kotler et al., 2003). The objective of embracing internal marketing practices by hotels is mainly to meet the desires and needs of the hotel guests. The elderly tourist in this research is identified as men and women aged above 65 years who tour different tourism destinations for leisure.

This research seeks to find out if hotels recognize the need to hire, train and motivate employees who can meet the hospitality needs of the elderly tourist.

Literature review

In research conducted by Wilhite et al. (1988), it was found that elderly travelers expect the service provision in hotels to meet their individual interests and needs. The marketing mix must however be designed towards meeting the interest and accommodation needs of the elderly population. Wilhite et al. (1988) further note that tourism hotel marketing efforts targeting the elderly must be respectful through according due dignity to the elderly.

A study on mature tourism in Europe conducted by Avcikurt (2007) came up with several recommendations on how to market tourism services to the mature and elderly market. The author argues that marketers should segment the elderly tourists along with age groups, income groups, attitudes, gender, lifestyles, and values held by the elderly tourists.

Internal marketing strategies identified in the study conducted by Avcikurt (2007) also consider issues that are important to the elderly market. Such include friendly hotel staff, sufficient security in the hotels, cleanliness, easy access to the various part of the hotel, help with the luggage. In addition, the hotels should be well maintained in order to offer seniors the comfort and luxury that would most appeal to them.

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Loyalty schemes for seniors in hotels have been identified as one of the strategies that hotels can use in order to keep the elderly clientele coming back on return visits (Lewis, 1989). However, Arnett Et al. (2002) note that how clients react to the offers provided in a hotel depends much on the service provision therein, which in turn depends on the internal marketing processes that hotels initiate in their respective work environments. The better trained, motivated and appreciated employee will be more satisfied by their work and is, therefore, more likely to provide better services to the clients.

Notably, the most successful tourism campaigns as noted by Ylanne-McEwen (2000) were those that promised more satisfaction to the elderly. Studies conducted by Kelly (1990, cited by Ylanne-McEwen, 2000) suggest that marketing strategies that offered to assure the retirees successful aging and easy adjustment to their new lifestyle seemed to be more successful.

Research model

This research seeks to answer the following questions:

  • Do hotels and other players in the hospitality industry adopt internal marketing practices specifically with the aim of serving the elderly tourists well?
  • Do the elderly tourists represent a large enough percentage of visitors to warrant special attention from the hotels?


All the hypotheses for the research question are on the affirmative side. The hypotheses for this study are:

H1: Hotels take considerable effort to hire, train and retain staff who can serve the elderly tourist market well.

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H2: Though not as large as the 30-55 age groups, the elderly population still represent a big enough percentage of tourists and thus attracts special attention from the hotel management.


Research purpose

This study was carried out for exploratory, explanatory and descriptive purposes.

Research strategy

The study is based on a questionnaire whereby, the management of 9 (three, four and five-star rated) hotels in New York City participated. The 9 hotels were also provided with 10 questionnaires for their top elderly clients. The average return rate was 8 questionnaires, meaning that the research ended up with 72 elderly-based questionnaires. Only 68 questionnaires were however fully complete.

Validity & Reliability

To enhance the validity of this study, the researcher sent questionnaires to carefully selected hotels.

Result & discussion

Internal marketing initiatives

Of all the 9 respondent hotels, all said they recognized that focusing on employee management is the best way of attaining internal marketing strategies for the elderly. 7 out of the 9 respondents stated that they encouraged their employees to express their feelings, concerns and issues noted when providing service to the elderly clientele.

Effects of the internal marketing initiatives on the elderly clients

The study was based on 68 questionnaires from 9 New York hotels. Of this, 20 % of all respondents rated the service provisions in the respective hotels as excellent; a further 68% rated the services as good, while the remaining 12 % stated that the services in the respective hotels needed improvement. 85 % of the visitors stated that they would consider staying in the same hotel on a return visit or recommend a family member or a friend to stay in the hotel.

Further, the analysis of the surveyed data revealed that 72 % of all respondents cited the attitude of service provision by the hotel staff as the key reason why they would consider a repeat stay or recommend the hotel to another person. 18 % of the respondents cited the combination of activities, food and dining, service provision, and lodging facilities as the reasons why they would come consider booking into the hotel on a return visit.

Asked whether they perceived age as a factor that merited the treatment they received in the hotel, 54 % of the respondents replied to the affirmative while 20 % said they were not sure if age was a factor. The remaining 26 % stated that age was not a factor in the treatment they received.

All except one hotel stated that the elderly travelers/tourists make 20 % of their total visitors annually. The remaining respondent stated that the elderly clientele made up 25 % of the total annual bookings. Additionally, all hotels stated that the elderly clientele made longer bookings than any other age-based segment.


In this study, I focused on gauging the effects of internal marketing strategies on the quality of service provision on elderly tourists. Based on the above results, it is clear that hotels which trained, motivated, and encouraged their staff registered more satisfaction among the elderly clientele. It is also evident that the quality of service provision was a major consideration among the elderly clientele. This explains why a significant percentage based their decisions for a repeat visit on the same. The elderly clientele also used the quality of service provision as a major reason why they would recommend the hotels to someone else.

The results of this study are in line with Gounaris’s (2008) statement which states that service-providing organizations need to succeed in their internal marketing before they can appeal to the external market. The empirical data collected during this study shows that all respondent hotels value the recruitment, training, motivation, and communication processes to their staff members. These findings suggest that Hypothesis 1 in this study is actually correct.

Linkages to marketing, customer service and quality. Source: Christopher et al., 1991
Figure 1: Linkages to marketing, customer service and quality. Source: Christopher et al., 1991

The fact that all hotel respondents stated that the elderly tourist made longer bookings is an indication that the hotels value the elderly clientele despite the fact that elderly tourists form a small percentage of age-based visitors to such hotels. This then approves hypothesis 2 in this study.


With the stiff competition experienced in the hotel industry, many hotel owners hope to build customer loyalty through customer satisfaction (Christopher et al., 1991; Jones, 1986). This however can only be attained through good service delivery, which is the responsibility of the hotel staff. Some of the admirable characteristics that hotel managers can encourage the hotel staff to adopt especially when attending to the elderly clientele are cooperation with other staff members and focusing on the needs and interests of the clientele. The elderly is the easiest target to make loyal customers from. This is especially so because they are less adventurous than the youths and are more outspoken about their needs and interests. There is a strong link between customer satisfaction and employee job satisfaction. As such, the internal marketing practices should be adopted by all hotels hoping to make a good clientele base from the elderly.


  1. Arnett, D.B., Laverie, D. A. & McLane, C. (2002). Using Job Satisfaction and pride as internal marketing tools. (Human Resources). Business Journals: Cornell Hotel & Restaurant Administration Quarterly 1-4.
  2. Avcikurt, C. (2007). The mature age market in Europe and its Influence on tourism. 140-145.
  3. Christopher, M., Payne, A. & Ballantyne, D. (1991). Relationship Marketing: Bringing quality customer service and marketing together. 1-30.
  4. Gounaris, S. (2008). Antecedents of Internal marketing practice: some preliminary empirical evidence. International Journal of Service Industry Management 19(3), 400-434.
  5. Jones, P. (1986). Internal Marketing. International Journal of Hospitality Management 5(4), 201-203.
  6. Kotler, P. Bowen, J. & Makens, J. (2003). Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism (4th Ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
  7. Lewis, R. (1989). Hospitality marketing: The Internal approach. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly 30(3), 41-44.
  8. Wilhite, B., Hamilton, K. & Reilly, L. (1988). Recreational travel and the elderly: marketing strategies with a normalization perspective. Activities, Adaptation & Aging 12(1&2), 59-72.
  9. Ylanne-McEwen, V. (2000). Golden Times for Golden Agers: Selling Holidays as Lifestyle for the over 50s. Journal of Communication 50(3), 83.
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