Persona Elements to Consider when Marketing Medical Tourism

When to use this checklist

When you creating your health tourism brand, estimating the size of your addressable medical or dental tourism market, or planning marketing campaign messages and international SEO strategies.

Who prepared this checklist?

Buyer personas are the most critical foundation for every aspect of marketing

Most health tourism and medical travel marketers have no idea how to develop buyer personas. If they did, they would stop assuming the entire world will be ready to beat a path to their destination or clinic door.

When the buyer persona component is either missing or completed incorrectly for the majority of enterprises, the result is low or no-traction for the seller or the seller's agent or patient advocate facilitator or care coordinator who advertises online.

A recent article on medical tourism destination development in Abu Dhabi recently caught my eye. Just like every other medical tourism start led by certain consultants, it characterized the project by stating that they have hopes to attract "the whole world." This sounds to me like another unwitting medical tourism market entrant with "dollar signs in their eyes."

Before deciding that your excess capacity in health services availability would be marketable to "the population across the whole world", perhaps you should start by creating a few buyer personas who might be inclined to consider your offer.

Potential buyers are "real people." Don't build fictional personas. Start with the checklist of sorts I've created below. It will help you reality check your assumptions beyond basics of persona traits so you can do a better job of market segmentation and addressable market sizing.

By taking a time out to complete this step, you'll save yourself time, money and aggravation when some marketing consultant feeds your ego by telling you that you can "make millions" with medical tourism based on statistics being reported in the media.

You may also save time, money aggravation and frustration on other offers (conference sponsorships, exhibit booths, and more) for those who will promise you that you can draw in MICE revenues, medical and dental revenues, and ancillary or tourism satellite account revenues associated with medical travel and health tourism.

A helpful checklist that goes beyond the basics of buyer persona creation especially designed for health and wellness tourism marketers

The buyer persona for medical travel and health tourism services includes, beyond the fundamentals of demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals, but is not limited to :

  1. A person with a need that cannot be filled locally.
  2. A person with the financial means to pay for the medical care and the travel and remain away from home for "as long as it takes" to be certified by the attending physician as "fit to fly".
  3. People with above average health literacy. . People with  low health literacy are 13% more likely to avoid complex care until their health level deteriorates to a point that it is no longer safe to travel on their own to access care at a distant location away from home.
  4. A person who is not afraid to fly.  Not all passengers who avoid flying are diagnosed with aviophobia. Some are afraid they many have an anxiety event. Flying is a uniquely terrifying activity for many people because they know that if fear or anxiety strikes during the trip, there’s little they can do. They’re afraid that they might have fear in the situation and be unable to get away from it. Imagine being stuck sweating and being totally afraid for two hours, four hours, six hours or 30 hours, feeling they are at the mercy of the pilot.  When the doors close, they’re in it. They’re stuck. They can’t get out of the situation. That’s often what’s most frightening for most people. For these people, the thought of flying across the USA for a few hours is no less appealing than flying 30 hours one-way to India.
  5. Persons with above average geo-literacy. Watch this video  to get a better idea about the problem of geo-literacy of the average American.  The persona who will be receptive to medical travel must first be geo-literate so that they can decide if they want to go where you are located.
  6. They must be allowed to leave their country and allowed to enter your country.
  7. They must feel welcome in your country.  For starters, a recent analyses suggest that there are more than 8 million adults in the US who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual, comprising 3.5% of the adult population. There are countries that market medical tourism who do not welcome LGBTQ visitors.  There are other reasons a person may feel unwelcome at a destination. These can include, but are not limited to: the client's political leanings, religious preference, perceptions about human rights issues reported about a destination in the international media, security issues and terrorist activity in recent months, just to name a few.
  8. Altitude and weather/climate considerations. High altitude destinations are not appropriate for a number of medical travel patients with many chronic conditions. Climate extremes and intense heat or cold may eliminate certain destinations for all-year attractiveness to only a limited window of opportunity. The risk or expectation of weather events (monsoon seasons, hurricanes and typhoons) can also be off putting to certain personas.

Buyer personas provide tremendous structure and insight for your company. A detailed buyer persona will help you determine where to focus your time, guide medical and dental tourism business development, and allow for brand consistency across your organization. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business and stop wasting time, money and opportunities on those who are unlikely to ever darken your door.

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