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Hotel, Home or Cruise Ship

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By Steve Moran

On July 4, 2016 Senior Housing News Published an article titled “Innovators Blur the Line Between Hotels and Senior Housing” that caught my eye. The article was a recap of a 16 page summary document that was the work product of the Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures (CIHF) roundtable, held in April 2016.

I find myself trying to figure out:

What we really are . . .

How we are portraying ourselves . . . .

What consumers really want . . .

What families want for their aging loved one . . .

If I were looking for senior living for my parents, what I would want . . .

If I were looking for senior living for myself  . . .  someday, what would I want . . .

One quote from the article really got me wondering if this is true:

“ . . . residents who move into senior living communities nowadays are in search of the same level of quality they desire from their favorite hotel brands.”

Is This Truth?

Maybe, I have this completely wrong or maybe I am a bit jaded because I stay in a lot of very nice hotels every year, but I am just not sure that I -- or most people for that matter -- would really prefer to live out the last years of our lives in a hotel, no matter how big the suite or fancy the dining options or luxurious the common spaces.  

Nor would I want to live out the last years of my life on a cruise ship.

I know there are some folks out there who see this as their dream. In fact, there are around 100 people (all seniors, as I understand it) who live on cruise ships full time and if they are living out their dream in their last years that is great.

But Here is The Double Rub . . .

Margaret Wylde of ProMatura has put a ton of effort into researching what makes senior living residents very satisfied with their experience. It turns out the number one most important factor is how much they feel like they are at home in their senior living community.  

This is hugely important because it is only that select group of residents and presumably their families that are likely to recommend the senior community they live in to their friends and family. While it may feel good to you to have the majority of your residents say they are satisfied with your community, the research shows they are very unlikely to recommend what you are selling to anyone.

And Then . . .

We know we have a 10%ish market penetration rate and maybe half or more of those folks move into a community because they have to, not because they want to. This would suggest they already are saying with their life choices and their pocket books, I like living in my rather ordinary home, where the walls are scuffed, the carpets are worn and the furniture is out of date. None of that looks anything like luxury living, but most importantly of all it feels like home . . . it is home.

In case you still think I have it wrong, in the next few weeks I will be publishing a video article about two market rate senior living communities that are converted 60’s style apartment complexes that are both 100% full and have a waitlist with 1,000 names on it.   

One of the big important reasons? These places feel like home!


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