Periodically I like to remind travel marketers that baby boomers — now in our 50s and 60s — are a frequently overlooked travel market.
But why are we overlooked?
According to a recent AARP study, American boomers spend more than $120 billion (that’s with a “b”) annually on leisure travel. We plan to take an average of four or five leisure trips in 2015 alone. That’s more than any other age group.
Many boomers are still working and earning more than we ever have in our lives. Others of us are already retired and eager to hit the road or the skies — with both time and money on our hands.
For the most part, our kids are off on their own and we can look beyond Disney World, the all-inclusive beach resort, or the cabin at the lake if we wish. Boomers tend to be adventurous (though likely with more creature comforts than when we were younger) and ready to try new experiences.
The AARP study found that the top motivators for boomers when we travel are getting away from normal, everyday life, followed by spending time with family and friends and relaxing and rejuvenating.
Relaxation for boomers, however, often involves an action component. That may take the form of a culinary tour of Peru, exploring Europe by river cruise ship, learning how to photograph wild animals in the Serengeti, or hiking the Milford Track in New Zealand.
Places like Antarctica, Mongolia, Cambodia, and the Australian Outback pop up on bucket lists.
Boomers may travel independently or we may take tours, but the tours had better avoid the “herd mentality” or we’ll look elsewhere — we like the expertise a guide can provide, but we’re used to making our own decisions and usually like plenty of free time built in.
Ignore the baby boom “wave” at your peril — we’re traveling, we’re spending money, and we expect good, personalized service.
That doesn’t seem too much to ask for a group with a $120 billion annual travel budget. Maybe we’re not the next new thing — but we are the current thing.
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