“Your idea of using a retirement community as a hotel WONT work!”
I have definitely received a few comments and emails with this tone lately. Here are some of the consistent themes challenging the concept of travellers in retirement communities:
- Increased liability and exposure for the community and residents
- Different tax structure and government regulations
- Potential for criticism from the hotel industry
- Most people won’t want to invest time with the residents
All of these are very valid points, and this is also a great opportunity for me to remind the readers that a lot of the concepts I throw out there are just ideas – I like getting critical feedback because it gives us the potential to turn some of these ideas into reality.
Here are a few of my thoughts on how a retirement community might address the challenges outlined above.
First, my vision of the characteristics of the ideal traveler might be someone who is:
- Looking for a different experience
- Open to spending a small amount of time in the community with the residents
- Will be returning to the community periodically for additional trips
- Has a common bond to the resident(s) such as a profession, interest or hobby
- Has agreed to specific “rules” set by the community and perhaps even submitted to a background check
As you can see I wouldn’t suggest opening the doors to all travelers, just a select few. A typical community might only have 2-3 people a year in this “club”. Operating under this concept these guests can simply be classified as guests of the community, similar to family members that might stay in a guest suite.
Most communities have a fund or charity that they support. Instead of charging the traveler for the room directly perhaps the traveler can make a contribution to a fund like this which could offset the funds coming directly from the community and might make this a program that favorably benefits the bottom line.
If this concept works in a specific community and is beneficial to the residents, travelers and community over time – then the community might consider taking more formal steps that might classify themselves as a “hotel”.
Remember, I am just throwing “wacky” ideas out there to get us to think differently about our system of eldercare!