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The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Travel Copywriter
Boomers on a river rafting trip crave excitement when they travel. Photo from ROW Adventures

Boomers on a river rafting trip crave excitement when they travel. Photo from ROW Adventures

I don’t usually use the word “seniors” when I’m referring to baby boomers — “seniors” somehow always seem older than us — but there’s a very insightful piece written by Anita Mendiratta of the CNN Task Force promoting the world’s seniors (those aged 60 and up) as “global tourism’s silver lining.”

Mendiratta praises senior travelers as “one of the most strategically valuable, yet socially undervalued, segments of the global travel population.”

The piece, which was syndicated by e Turbo News, touches a lot of bases that I’ve blogged about over the past 2 1/2 years, and has added a few new wrinkles (if you’ll excuse the expression) as well.

Her key premise is that older travelers should not be forgotten as the tourism industry actively courts millennials and other younger age groups. “To the traveling world,” she writes, “they are the ideal solution to so many destinations’ challenges.”

And for good reason.

Start with sheer numbers. The world population is aging, partly due to better health care and partly due to falling birthrates. Mendiratta notes that the global share of the population aged 65+ rose from 9.2 percent in 1990 to 11.7 percent in 2013, and will top 21 percent by the year 2050.

The U.S. ranks eighth in the world in the percentage of senior residents, currently numbering nearly 15  million, which will zoom to more than 20 million by 2030. (Japan, Germany, and Italy form the top three; the UK and Australia are numbers seven and nine, respectively.)

How Seniors Enhance the World of Travel

Next, consider the attributes that seniors bring to the world of travel. Mendiratta lists them as, and I quote:

• Higher levels of disposable income

• Higher flexibility of choice re: travel timings throughout the year

• Higher excitement about where they can travel

• Higher lengths of stay compared to the average traveler

• Greater kindness, patience and propensity to have a chat about the awe all around them vs. the average traveler

While the first four attributes are vital, I found the last attributes — kindness, patience, and sense of awe — particularly intriguing.

Mendiratta calls these characteristics “increasingly rare in today’s fast paced, low patience, pause-photograph-post world…[they] can feel like a breath of fresh air. In many ways, their higher requirements of attention and courtesy than the average traveler can feel like a reboot of what it means to deliver personal hospitality, a truly one-to-one experience.”

“These are the people,” she continues, “who not only keep destinations buoyant in the off-seasons, they are the travelers that remind us that, for all of the technology at our fingertips, ours is a service industry based on sharing, caring and delivering a personally enriching experience.”

Amen to that.

I’ll have more on this story in my next post.

Travel Tip of the Day: Don’t overlook alternative (often smaller) airports in your region when searching for the best airfares. You might just come upon a special deal that may require driving a bit farther but will save you big bucks; long-term parking can also be much cheaper at smaller airports.

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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