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Don’t Forget about Baby Boomers - Your Biggest Market

Written by  Douglas Cooke

DougOn this page two years ago, I wrote about the lip service that is being given to the impact that the Millennial generation will have on the travel industry. At the time, I expressed my confusion about the abrupt switch I had seen from the industry experts and analysts in their projections about the strength of the Baby Boomers to that of the Millenials. To be sure, Millennials are indeed the future of the travel industry, but the Baby Boomers are its “here and now.” Their ranks are 76 million strong and it is projected that 99% will travel in 2016.
I recently received an article about the Baby Boomer generation from a customer, and thought it was worth sharing with our readers.

Boomer Travel Industry Expected to Explode

Written by Steven Hartman, Marketing for Sky Bird Travel and Tours

In 1946, 3.4 million babies were born in the United States, sparking the baby boom generation. Think about it. When most of them were young children there were less than 2.5 billion people on the planet, only 48 US states, and 2 Germanys. The world has since become globalized, digitized and easily accessible and now, 70 years later, they are retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day with many active years ahead of them.
Exotic places they saw in movies can be reached in less than 12 hours and many are deciding to redefine retirement by traveling. According to AARP, at least 50% of baby boomers traveled in 2015.
In 2016, they are projecting 99%. Yes, 99% will travel - 45% will do so both domestically and internationally (the remainder of travelers strictly stay domestic).
What are the main motivations for these baby boomers’ desires to travel internationally? For those 70 and over, they are looking at the places they wish they could go and then actively making a decision to go there. In other words, they’re crossing items off their bucket lists. And Europe is on the top of that list (36%) followed closely by the Caribbean/South America (27%).
Just because they’ve reached retirement age, baby boomers won’t necessarily take that gold watch and enjoy their golden years on the sofa. 47% of baby boomers will remain employed with 91% having vacation time that they can use up. Having the ability to be connected is both a blessing and a curse, as nearly half of all working baby boomers feel it’s important to stay connected with the office while on vacation; nearly 1/3 will bring some work along.

Finally, the age and health of the baby boomer is a major factor in deciding where to travel. Unfortunately, getting older means health risks go up. For those over 70 years old, health is a critical factor in avoiding international travel whereas those under 60 are less likely to be able to enjoy a significant amount of time away from the office. Weekend trips or vacations that involve less travel time are likely in the cards for this demographic, which is why Las Vegas, California and Florida tend to be the top domestic spots - they’re close, you can spend less than a week there and they’re generally warm. But that 60-69 age group is seeking a little more adventure outside of North America.
Multi-generational trips are a big deal for the retiring population. With the ability to devote more time to family, they want to travel with their children and grandchildren which is why many will opt for Disney World, cruises and locations where it’s convenient for the whole family to meet up. But don’t discount their desire to take a multi-generational trip abroad. Nearly 1/4 plan on traveling out of the United States with their families. Having access to group rates and the experience in planning complicated trips will be very beneficial to the baby boom generation.
When it comes to planning these complicated trips with multiple itineraries, hotels and packages, baby boomers most likely won’t do it online because there are too many pieces to the puzzle. They’ll want an experienced and knowledgeable travel consultant to get them to the appropriate airports, recommend the right hotels and advise on the best excursions that gives them the experience they’ve longed for. That’s where the travel agent can really shine.
As thousands of baby boomers set to reach retirement age every day for the next 15 years, they’ll find they have disposable income and a desire to have an adventure. $157 billion is what they spent last year on travel - be the travel consultant they use to book their vacation.
But where do you find these travelers? Everywhere! From your social network page to your local church to word-of-mouth, people want a travel consultant -  especially those who can save them money. Believe it or not, people of all ages like saving money. Market the benefits of using you! Having access to a travel consolidator often allows you to find net fares, make customized land and river packages and even lower the rate when booking a group. Consolidators will have contracts with major airlines and the tools to help you make more money while still giving your customers a discount.
Baby boomers want to travel. Don’t neglect this 76 million person demographic.

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