About 2 years ago, Santa Ian Loxton, Tim Connaghan and myself all came to the same idea at pretty much the same time and Tim coined the term "Santa Emeritus". Basically there comes a time when a Santa simply cannot do the work of being Santa due to illness, injury or simple old age.
That does not mean they have to hang up the suit and stop. There is a slowly maturing technology based Santa visit that has just had it's start in 2012. This is the "Video over the Internet" visit with families.
Now through "Video calls over the internet" there is another way for those that no longer have the strength, stamina or ability to travel and visit for an hour or hours at a time to continue to work. Back in 2012 they came out with "Your Santa Story" and that was the first attempt of a large scale marketing of this idea. It flopped due to some poor planning and marketing on the part of the developers but the idea survived and has grown. It was a mixture of a personalized DVD that was sent to the home for the family to watch and live or recorded over the internet messages.
Then came along the "Hello Santa" that was bought by JibJab last year. Also last year there was another entry called "Talk to Santa" and while they did not come close to meeting their goals, "Hello Santa" did show improvement from the first year to the second.Back about 2 years ago, You need a good solid and fast internet connection, a decent computer or laptop that can handle the information/data transfer and a good web camera. What has hampered the growth of this type of "visit" is two fold. First the public has to adopt it fully and there is some significant lag in this so far. Last year was the best response so far but there is a long way to go before this takes off.
The second and most important is the Santas themselves adopting the medium. You work from a split screen following a script and plugging in the information provided for the call. The problem seems to be not many of the Santas seem to be able to project the energy, eye contact and enthusiasm needed to carry off the interview.
Granted it is a new medium and even though the call may be "live" the Santa is alone in a room with a backdrop and a computer but no children to work off of. This is something older Santas will have to adjust to and work on in order to make this type of visit work for them. Younger, more tech savvy Santas have shown to be better able to adapt to this new medium but even then you need to be able to project your personality through the internet with energy and enthusiasm.
Improv training, Story telling training and even joining a Speech writers club might be helpful in getting better with this. But as this medium continues to improve and mature, NOW is the time to make the effort to become skilled in the ways mentioned here in order to be the kind of Santa that can and will thrive and grow with this new idea.