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The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Travel Copywriter
Multi-generational travelers might opt to sail away to Alaska aboard the Disney Wonder. Photo from Disney Cruise Lines

Multi-generational travelers might opt to sail away to Alaska aboard the Disney Wonder. Photo from Disney Cruise Lines

Multi-generational travel is hot.

So hot that it’s up 30 percent over the past year. And boomer-led family groups are spending an average of $1,000 more per year than other travelers,  according to findings at a recent family travel summit.

The second TMS Family Travel Summit, organized by TMS Family Travel and Family Travel Consulting,  brought together 38 travel journalists, editors, publishers and marketers to hear the latest research, discuss travelers’ needs, and determine marketing strategies for family groups led by retiring boomers. 

The multi-generational travel phenomenon presents both challenges and opportunities for those in the travel industry.

 But what, exactly, constitutes multi-generational travel? 

One speaker defined it as a travel party comprised of at least one traveler over age 60 with at least one traveler under age 18 who resides in a different household.

But most multi-generational groups are bigger than that, averaging nearly five  travelers per group (versus an average of just over two travelers per group for the leisure segment overall).

Walking and hiking trips are another good way for families to bond. Photo from Walking the World

Walking and hiking trips are another good way for families to bond. Photo from Walking the World

Other findings:

• Multi-generational travelers stay busy while traveling, participating in more active activities in almost all categories, including visiting more theme parks. 

• Multi-generational travelers have higher incomes ($93,000 per household) than other leisure travelers ($81,000) and more leisure time.

• When grandparents arrange the trip, they most often pay (65 percent). When adult children and grandchildren organize, the adult children are most likely to pay (39 percent), with a third of traveling parties saying they share expenses.

• Multi-generational travelers take an average of four trips and spend $1,000+ per year more than other leisure travelers.

• 70 percent of multi-generational travelers report that children participate in travel planning; 66 percent say kids help decide where to travel and 50 percent where to stay. 

• Multi-generational trips are often triggered by a special occasion, with 66 percent traveling to celebrate life milestones.

• The majority of multi-generational travelers visit online communities for travel advice, and more often than other leisure travelers.

Summing up the trends, the ten big insights from the TMS Family Travel attendees were:

1. Multigenerational Travelers are planning more trips and traveling more than general U. S. travelers.

River rafting is one potential activity for active multi-generational travel groups. Photo from American River Recreation.

River rafting is one potential activity for active multi-generational travel groups. Photo from American River Recreation.

2. This niche is potentially very lucrative because it involves multiple airfares, rooms, restaurant meals, and attraction tickets.

3. Today’s grandparents are far more active than their parents, and destinations must design products that recognize this.

5. Multi-generational travelers do their homework, searching up to 22 sites before confirming plans and booking.

5. Multi-generational travelers will “seize the moment” to travel together before children are grown, regardless of the economy.

6. There is great opportunity to attract multi-generational groups with preschoolers during the traditional, off peak spring and fall seasons. 

7. Children are much more influential in planning trips, according to 60 percent of parents and 66 percent of grandparents. 

8. There is great variance in who pays for multi-generational trips, making it hard to target the right customers. 

9. There is opportunity to market to Hispanics, African Americans, and international families who often travel in multi-generational groups. 

10. Despite great opportunity in promoting travel to multi-generational families, the market is not well defined or understood. 

My take: The last insight could apply to baby boomer travel as a whole — the market is still not well defined or understood, despite the fact that baby boomers are the biggest spending generation in history when it comes to travel (and most everything else). Boomers have the money, though it’s also refreshing to hear that adult children help defray expenses — and that children take an active role in the planning!

Thanks to Kyle McCarthy at Family Travel Forum for her detailed account of this conference.

 

 

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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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