Baby boomers — the most-traveled generation in history — are ready to hit the road in record numbers as they gain more leisure time in retirement, but are you ready for them?
Boomers account for a third of all leisure trips taken and four-fifths of all money spent on luxury travel, yet many tour operators either take them for granted or ignore them altogether. One reason might be that they don’t know what makes boomers tick.
Of course, not all boomers — born between 1946 and 1964 — are alike or think alike, but in general (like all generations) they have some key characteristics in common.
Here are five ways to attract more boomers — and their spending power — to your tours:
1. Avoid the terms “seniors,” “elder” or any implications that boomers are “old.” Boomers may be aging, but to their minds, at least, they aren’t old. When asked what age is “old” in a recent survey, the average answer baby boomers gave was “77.” That may be because it’s a safe 10 years older than the current oldest boomers, who are now 67. (Ask again in ten years, and chances are the answer will be ’87.’)
Conversely, while using pictures in your brochures and ads, be sure to use photos of fit-looking boomers doing active things.
2. Combine adventurous activities with creature comforts. Many boomers — including leading-edge boomers in their 60s — can still comfortably hike, ride bikes, go kayaking or rafting, and do any number of adventurous activities that people of their age in past generations might long since have given up. Antarctica, Machu Picchu and cycling through Greece may well be on their bucket lists. But most boomers have graduated from youth hostels with dorm rooms and bathrooms down the hall. While they don’t necessarily require luxury accommodations, a bit of pampering won’t hurt — and luxury is indeed on the docket for many. Think a beautiful game lodge in the heart of the Serengeti.
3. Give them options. Baby boomers are used to being in control. In fact, they’ve been catered to much of their lives because of their sheer numbers, so they resent being told what to do. That goes for tours as well as anything else. Rather than set tour itineraries in stone, consider giving boomers the options to customize their own itineraries. A bonus is that you’ll be able to charge more for customized tours — and many boomers will willingly pay the premium.
4. Donate to local causes. We covered this in a recent post, but it bears repeating: many boomers retain their youthful idealism and respond positively to — and are more willing to give repeat business to — tour operators who give some of their profits to worthy causes and charities in the places they visit, such as schools, health clinics and wildlife conservation programs.
5. While it’s crucial to maintain a robust online presence — starting with a professional-looking, easy-to-navigate website, which many boomers use to book trips — don’t overlook print advertising, including direct-response mail. Boomers grew up with print and still treat mail that arrives at their houses with respect. Just be sure to include a call to action — let them know what you want them to do! — and an easy way for them to get back to you with their (positive) response.
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. It’s also the easiest way to subscribe to my blog, so you won’t miss a posting. Thanks!