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Aging and Information Technology Use: Booking a Hotel Room Online

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Description of the Need

Many seniors are reluctant to use the Internet for unfamiliar purposes for several reasons including declining age-related physical and cognitive abilities, fears and uncertainties of new technology, and lack of experience and confidence in their technological abilities. However, if a senior perceives a website or e commerce service as useful, the senior will attempt to overcome these barriers. This module is one method of increasing the seniors’ comfort, confidence, and skill levels with technology and the Internet to avail themselves of the benefits of using online hotel reservations systems to reserve a room.

Evidence of the Need

McMurtrey, Downey, Zeltmann, and McGaughey (2011) reported that there is evidence to support that the digital divide between the old and young with respect to technology adoption is lessening, but still occurring. Usage of technology by seniors may be encumbered through their resistance to change, age-related declines in physical and cognitive abilities, their perceptions that digital technologies are not relevant to their daily lives, and their unfamiliarity or fear of computers. Nonetheless, the survey results of McMurtrey et al. (2011) implied “that somewhere between 60% and 70% of the 173 respondents owned a computer of some kind” and that 57% used a computer a few times a week or more with Internet usage being the primary motivator. However, with respect to their skill level of using the Internet for purposes other than email and social networking, 50% of the respondents replied that they have very little to moderate experience. Therefore, it can be deduced that approximately 50% of all seniors would meet the minimal prior knowledge criteria to participate in the module. Alén, Losada, and De Carlos (2017) indicated that there are major push and pull factors to motivate seniors to travel. The main push factors are visiting family and friends, seeking knowledge, relaxation, and escaping their daily routines through novelty and new experiences of different cultures and ways of life. The main pull factors for seniors choosing a destination are safety and security, cleanliness and hygiene, climate, and natural, cultural and historic attractions and activities.

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Pesonen, Komppula, and Riihinen (2015) developed a typology of seniors who travel and use tourism information technology: (1) fumbling observer (beginning computer skills), (2) meticulous researcher (basic computer skills), and (3) adventurous experimenter (advanced computer skills). The first two types are primarily interested in packaged vacations and familiar destinations; however, the adventurous experimenters are independent travelers and seek new destinations. Lukaitis and Davey (2009) found that for seniors who were planning to travel, the seniors made quick first impressions of hotel websites and related travel websites such as for airline tickets and car rentals, and preferred those websites that were easy to navigate and understand. A senior’s willingness to use the Internet for e-commerce, including hotel reservations, is influenced by those preferences as well as the senior’s perception of the usefulness of e-commerce websites; the senior will attempt to overcome any usability issues if he or she determines a perceived usefulness.

Justification of Need

The percentage of seniors is continually rising with respect to the total population of the U.S. and many other countries; given the seniors’ higher level of disposable income and free time, seniors have a greater disposition to travel than seniors of generations past. However, the survey results of McMurtrey et al. (2011) indicated that 41% of the senior respondents that used the Internet had a comfort level between very uncomfortable to a little comfortable. The potential benefits and outcomes of addressing the need are to increase the comfort, confidence, and skill levels of the target audience in using technology and the Internet for e-commerce in general, and specifically for reserving a hotel room online.

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