A tourist in dental tourism

Posted Posted by Marek in Blog     
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Dental tourist profileA significant part of our Dental Travel Poland Blog posts focused on a medical part of dental treatment in Poland. Now let us concentrate on those who decide on dental tourism. The topic “What is Tourism in Dental Tourism?” was analysed by the researchers from the University of Lugano, Switzerland. They presented many interesting analyses and conclusions in their thesis. Among others, they described the demographic profile of a dental tourist.

Dental tourist profile
The  demographic  profile  of  a dental  tourist has  been  built  in accordance  with  the  interviews  (done mostly in Hungary).  The  detailed data are presented  in  the graphics below.  The  dental tourists and patients mainly  come from the  lower  layer  of the middle  class,  with  a growing tendency towards the higher middle income classes. This is because the people from low income classes in Great Britain rather wait for free treatment refundable by NHS, or do not treat their teeth at all. And as for patients  with  high  income , they tend  to travel less for treatment due to lack of time. Besides, they can afford dental implants procedure, dental crowns, teeth veneers or any other dental treatment in their own country.

Dental Tourist Profile
Dental trips are not seasonal. Patients have teeth problems all the year around. Dental tourism is less likely to occur during the Christmas New year’s break and in the month of August, so in the seasons of traditional family holidays for both patients and dentists. Most of the dental tourists travel on Sunday nights and book the first visit in dental clinic on Monday. Also differently from common travelers arriving for weekends. Hence, a partnership between dental clinics or agencies and the hotels represents a perfect complement for the business. The type of accommodation, that dental tourist usually choose are usually 3 star hotels. In the biggest cities most of the agencies and clinics have agreements with them. This is a mutually beneficial partnership, the clinics can provide discounted rooms to the patients nearby, while the hotels have a very high occupancy rate all year around, saving costs of the marketing and sales department.

The duration of dental holidays’ stay depends on the nature of the dental treatment. In the graphic you will see the three most common times of dental trips. All of these require more than the average stay of a normal tourist in Hungary, which is 2,6 days (Hungarian Central Statistical Office). In Poland the time of treatments and regular holidays  coincide, the average length of stay is between 3 to 7 nights. The dominant mode of transportation is airplane – 90% of all dental travels. Dental tourism destination countries have a very highly developed aviation infrastructure and what is more the prices of flights are also affordable for people working in the in the UK or Norway.

Dental Travel graphics

Ways of organizing a dental travel
Dental tourists can organise their trips in three different ways. Booking treatments via a dental travel agency, contacting the dental clinic directly or contacting a dental agent abroad.

Dental Travel Poland Agency1.    First and the safest way to book a dental holiday is via a dental travel agency like Dental Travel Poland or Medical Holidays Abroad. The agencies are responsible for providing information and finding the right dentist for the patients. Consultants arrange the appointments, provide communication with dentists, book hotel, and entertainment. They keep customer service at a high level all the time. You can be sure that dental agencies arrange all the issues related to your treatment and stay. Some agencies also advertise packages, which contain a specific treatment and the hotel booked for the number of nights required for the treatment. It is common, that agencies cooperate with more than one dental clinic abroad. Smaller dental clinics can enter into the dental tourism market only by cooperating with dental agencies, that can take over the organizational tasks.

Dental clinics2.    The second way is most direct as it involves contacting dental clinics by phone or email, but the patient has to deal with most of the organizational matters. It is not easy and takes a lot of time and additional costs. However, many of the dental clinics have agreements with partner hotels, if the patient asks for help in booking accommodation the clinics may provide necessary help. Increasing number of dental clinics following the model of travel agencies is noticeable, but unfortunately it is not the same – the online presence is not sufficient. However those, that are located in well-known spa destinations accept many random tourists. Especially retired tourists, who spend 2-3 weeks of holiday, during their stay seeking dental treatment. In this case the dental visit is the secondary motivation of the patient.

Travel agent organise dental treatments3.    The following possibility for patients is to contact travel agents. This model is very similar to dental travel agencies, but the abovementioned one is more focused on the dental needs of the tourists. Dental clinic cooperates with several travel agents located in the sender countries. The agents serve as intermediaries between the clinic and the patients. Everything is communicated through them, they book an appointment for the patients and help with accommodation, and also arrange the tourist part. In terms of number of dental tourist per month, this model has proved to be the successful one. Though  success  may  be  influenced  by  many  other  factors, such as duration of treatment of foreign patients, availability of appointment dates in the clinic,  articles that  have  been  written  in  foreign  media,  not  to  mention the key element –   customer satisfaction.

The article written by researchers from Switzerland shows that dental tourists are better patients than tourists. The tourism factor is of much significance in the decision for having a dental treatment abroad. 80% of the dental tourists go abroad only for visiting dental clinic.  The  other  20%  are  interested  in  visiting Budapest, Warsaw, Cracow, Prague and other big cities in  the  first  place, and decide  afterwards  to  undergo  treatment  during the  holiday.  Dental  tourism  is  mainly motivated  by  the  price  advantage  not by  the  country  itself,  that  is  why  the  tourism  industry does not show particular interest in it. Though there is a significant opportunity to convert the patients into regular tourists.

Based on: "What is Tourism in Dental Tourism?", Judit Zoltan and Rico Maggi,
 University of Lugano, Switzerland


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