Fix the Product, Then the Perception


Business is off 40%. You lost $9 million last year, compared with a $7 million profit the year before. Average age of your customers is up to 73, from 68 a decade ago.

It was definitely time for a makeover at Elderhostel Inc., the venerable travel and educational organization for older adults. Among its needs:

- Greater
recognition from active baby boomers who are financially secure, have time on their hands and are curious about places they’ve never seen.

- No more
minimum age restrictions.

- New
programs and tours with wider appeal.

- And, oh
yes, a new name.

Elderhostel got its start 30 years ago, offering adults 60 and older noncredit classes and inexpensive housing on college campuses. Its cofounder allegedly asked, “If there are youth hostels, then why aren’t there elder hostels?”

But soon thereafter, people started asking for better accommodations. No more sharing a bathroom down the hall. No more backpacks. Admits one executive, “The name wasn’t even descriptive back then.”

As their website acknowledges today, “There are millions for whom the name itself is a barrier they cannot get past – either because they don’t perceive themselves as elders or because the word hostel represents an inaccurate description of our accommodations.”

As a famous gambler would say, you gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. It’s high time to fold that old name.

Elderhostel’s new name: Exploritas, a word that fuses “explore” with “veritas” (Latin for truth).

Says their CEO: “We hope the new name will evoke the idea of exploring the world and your mind, and searching for truth.”

Sponsored By: The Brand Positioning Workshop

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