Are 1/3 of Travelers ignored?

Tourists and touters

photo via Flickr Klearchos Kapoutsis

 While some in the Travel industry have embraced this group, a large portion has ignored or taken for granted a very big group of travelers.And by Travel industry I include Hotels, Airlines, Travel Agents, Travel Bloggers, Tourism Agencies and anyone else having anything to do with travel.

 

If you owned a business and knew that 1/3 of your customers spent the majority of money with you why would you take them for granted?

Research shows that in the US alone, more than 76 million babies were born between 1946 and 1964.

The baby boomer generation as it is called represents 36 percent of leisure travelers and 43 percent of business travelers. Boomer travel also makes up 80 percent of the luxury travel market. {{Taken from http://www.ustravel.org/news/press-kit/travel-facts-and-statistics}}That’s a pretty large market!

There are some magazines and agencies that specialize in boomer travel but for the most part this segment of travelers is ignored. While thoughts of grey haired people playing shuffle board may come to mind you have to remember that this group was the Woodstock group, the internet startup group and the group that was at the beginning of the tech revolution. The boomers of today were the original backpack across Europe crowd, and the ones that made visiting places like Tibet and Tunisia fashionable. This is the group that has always been adventurous, innovative and took risks so when it comes to travel they are breaking the mold of what most people think of when it comes to senior travel.

If you have stayed at a hostel, been on an adventure tour, went hiking or biking chances are you have met some old guys and gals. Hey I can talk I am one of them.

Now I want to explain something. There is a difference between catering to boomers and not ignoring them. The industry does not need to turn upside down and serve nothing but boomer travel. This is the first time I have ever written specifically about baby boomers. But as part of a marketing plan you have to take into consideration the number of people involved and make sure you are not alienating them.

Research conducted by Baby Boomer magazine shows 54% wanting to travel more regularly and to long-haul destinations and 22% wanting to go on a once in a lifetime holiday in the next decade. Over 11% of Baby Boomers over 50 plan on traveling on their own, and we are not talking just RV trips or hitting the slots at Vegas. Boomers want to see foreign countries, go on adventures and start checking of items on bucket lists.

These aren’t the grandparents from the fifties. Places like Antarctica, Machu Pichu, Amazon River tours and hiking Europe are on these bucket lists, even clothing optional cruises and resorts.  Yeah I know……..eeew! Trust me I don’t want to see me most of time much less some others. However remember Vanessa Williams, Paula Abdul, Jamie Lee Curtis, George Clooney, Tom Hanks and even Vladimir Putin are all baby boomers. I may have to reconsider should Valerie Bertinelli or Michelle Pfeiffer ever go sans clothes at a resort.

Here are some things for the travel industry to consider.

1 Boomers as a whole have more time to spend on travel and leisure.

 

2 Boomers usually want a little more comfort having done the poor traveler routine when younger. This does not mean only staying at high end hotels and resorts. It does mean things like hostels with private rooms not a dorm of bunk beds. Comfortable beds, access to wi-fi, not having to carry luggage up six flights of stairs and safety, to include in room safes. These are the things that we never thought that much about when younger but it is important now. Not being crammed in a small economy seat on a 13 hour flight is a big plus. So maybe a little leg room please?

 

3 Boomers still do most if not all the things they did when younger, river rafting and tours, sky diving, scuba and everything in between. However willing the mind is, a day packed with a hike, river rafting, zip line and four wheeler in a 10 hour period, might put a lot of us down for the next day or two. So spread out the activities and give the option of one or more stand alone activities instead of a take it all or leave it package.

 

4 Boomers are more likely to have done their homework and looked online to check out hotel, airline and restaurant reviews. They want the adventure and visiting the out of the way places but still have some type of comfort.

 

5 Boomers are still into the night life. Yes a quiet piano bar attracts a certain crowd as does a raging, ear blasting, spring break blowout. That doesn’t mean us old folks don’t like something in between. Go to an Aerosmith concert and you will find people in their 40’s and 50’s.

So Travel Industry, listen up. When you market, write an ad, do a story, offer a press trip, or set up your facilities do it with everyone in mind. The 20 year old that is traveling around the world and the 50 year old backpacking couple can co-exist in the same place enjoy each other’s company and are interested in a lot of the same things.

I am still interested in seeing out of the way places, walking around cities, hitting the night life and experiencing things for the first time.

Now if I can just get out of bed without my back hurting I will be okay.

 

About thetravellingfool

Bob aka: The Traveling Fool is a History buff, cigar lover and enthusiast of different cultures and places. He has had the privilege of living, working and traveling all over the world. A proponent of getting off the "tourist path" and experiencing all that the culture and people have to offer. Happiest on a white sand beach in SE Asia or anywhere Tropical.Written By: Bob follow on Twitter @thetravelfool

Comments

  1. Great article Bob!
    From working in the hotel Industry myself I couldn’t agree with you more! The industry is too revolved around young travellers!
    Sam @ Travellingking.com recently posted..Top 5 things to do in the Flinders RangesMy Profile

    • thetravellingfool says:

      Thanks for the kind words. I always go wherever I want but some places lose my business because of a few of the things mentioned.

  2. As somebody who turned 48 last week I could not agree with you more. Great post Bob.
    Steve recently posted..House of Terror – BudapestMy Profile

  3. Absolutely right., Bob. It is apparently fashionable for four tour operators and tourist boards to ignore senior travelers. Their loss.

  4. I’m pushing 50, so I am a bit before that demographic…but I would say that a large number of the hardcore travelers of my age and up don’t rely much on travel agencies anyway. Why pay somebody to charge you more and be in charge of where you end up? As a guy who has traveled more frequently and more widely than most travel agents alive, I’d rather research a new place and find the coolest part of town to stay, then start reading what other travelers have done and where they have stayed…then I’ll hit Agoda or book direct to get the deal I want at the place I want. Ditto with flights. You won’t find many agents who will get you a better deal on a flight compared to DIY…unless you go with a package. Ugh!

    But when it comes to the non-seasoned travelers or to high end all-frills types, they don’t care so much about the details, as long as they are looked after. So it makes sense that the agencies focus on the non DIY types, no?

  5. As a boomer traveller, I find I have been to most of the places I really want to go, so I need to look for out-of-the-way destinations. They tend to be less ageist than the mainstream destinations in the developed world.
    Also, groups like http://www.friendshipforce.org provide interesting opportunities to get to know locals abroad through home stays.

    • thetravellingfool says:

      That’s true but you can also hit the mainstream places just look for the off the tourist path gems that most people never take time to find.

  6. Great article Bob! It often happens that whoever works in the travel industry focuses to much on the younger generations hoping to get/squeeze the most out of them. Shame really, as you said they should focus on everybody!
    Franca recently posted..Visiting the Taipei Biennial and Fine Arts MuseumMy Profile

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