Savvy tour operators and destination marketers are taking aim at a big newly emerging travel force: baby boomers traveling with their grandchildren.
Leading edge baby boomers, reaching age 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day, are finding themselves with more time to travel, and affluent baby boomers are ready to both spend some quality time on the road with their grandkids and spend the money necessary to make sure everyone has a memorable trip.
In a report prepared for lastminute.com, the Future Foundation identified GranTravel, as they called it, as one of the key new trends in travel and leisure. The foundation described “a new generation of active grandparents who travel with their grandchildren, making the most of their free time and spending power, while the parents continue to work.”
Traveling with the grandkids may span anything from a few days at Disney World to the exotic, such as an African safari. Cruises and resorts are also popular, since many ships and resorts have kids’ programs that keep them happily and safely occupied much of the day, giving the grandparents some time to themselves.
Tour operators that have identified this new market include Road Scholar (roadscholar.org) — the education-oriented organization that I wrote about in an earlier post — and the upscale Austin Adventures (austinadventures.com).
Road Scholar has been offering grandparent-grandchildren trips for 30 years, so they’re way ahead of the curve; you can sort their trips by your grandkids’ ages to see which are most appropriate. Offerings range from outdoor explorations in Missouri to natural history explorations in the Galapagos.
Austin Adventures puts together family trips appropriate for grandparent-grandchildren combos that feature soft adventures from rafting trips in Idaho to game-viewing in Botswana.
Cruise lines that know how to attract multi-generational travelers include Norwegian — which features lots of connecting cabins — and, as you might imagine, Disney, which offers the best kids’ programs at sea.
While baby boomers traveling on their own often prefer independent travel or loosely organized tours, when they travel with grandkids in tow they tend to look for more structure and certainty — there’s nothing worse than arriving at a destination with young kids and finding your hotel reservation has fallen through or having to wait in long lines for a rental car. So there’s plenty of room here for tour operators and travel agents to put together highly organized, upscale trips that the grandparents know will run smoothly and allow more time for fun.
When organizing trips for this market, it’s essential to stress safety, efficiency, and understanding of what will keep two very different generations happy and occupied. While the grandkids may represent the bigger challenge in this regard, don’t forget the grandparents, either. If you can meet their needs as well , they’re likely to return for another round soon.
And don’t forget to download my free report, “How to Ride the Coming Wave of Boomers,” available here. It’s all about the best ways to market travel to baby boomers — the biggest-spending group of travelers the world has ever seen.