Leveraging the Post-Pandemic Boom in Senior Tourism in Japan: A New Approach to Digital Strategy
In the wake of Japan’s recent decision to reclassify COVID-19 as a Category 5 infectious disease — similar to influenza — a sense of normalcy is returning. This move has triggered an unexpected wave of ‘revenge travel’ among Japan’s senior population. As evident from the Japan Tourism Agency’s ‘Travel and Tourism Consumption Trends Survey’, these silver-haired tourists have massive economic potential, long constrained by the pandemic.
In 2019, pre-pandemic, Japanese seniors aged 60 and above spent more than 3.8 trillion yen on domestic tourism. However, the advent of the pandemic in 2020 slashed this to a mere 1.32 trillion yen, slipping further to 1.15 trillion yen in 2021. Though 2022 saw a mild recovery to 2.27 trillion yen, this only represents about 70% of pre-pandemic spending. Now, as Japan opens up, it is anticipated that senior tourism expenditure could return to its pre-COVID levels.
Seniors offer more than economic value to Japan’s tourism sector. Their flexible schedules allow them to travel during off-peak periods, helping to offset the discrepancy between peak and off-peak occupancy for accommodation providers.
However, seniors represent one of the least digitized demographic groups. They often struggle with online booking systems, and their diverse range of needs presents a challenge to Online Travel Agents (OTAs) and Travel Technology Providers (TTPs). This is where Yuko Yuko, a startup travel company, saw an opportunity.
Yuko Yuko, like a modern travel agency, has created its own booking system. Interestingly, they also publish a bi-monthly magazine, with each issue introducing over 500 Japanese accommodations across at least 350 pages. The magazine, essentially a physical manifestation of their digital platform, provides seniors an opportunity to engage with a format they are more familiar with.
According to Yuko Yuko’s CEO, Kazuko Tokuda, the company aims to provide seniors a familiar space amidst the digital technology environment. Unlike many OTAs, which charge accommodation…