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The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

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Lee's Summit, Missouri, hopes to attract multi-generational visits featuring baby boomer grandparents. Photo from Lee's Summit Visitors Council.

Lee’s Summit, Missouri, hopes to attract multi-generational visits featuring baby boomer grandparents. Photo from Lee’s Summit Visitors Council.

Lee’s Summit, Missouri — a city of about 90,000 people and part of the Kansas City greater metropolitan area — is targeting baby boomer travelers who are planning to take multi-generational trips in the near future, hoping to capture some of that growing market.

I’ve written a number of times about the growing baby boomer travel trend of multi-generational travel — going on trips with your kids and grandkids, often three generations at once — such as in this piece, which focuses on boomers traveling with their grandkids, and this piece, which identifies a multi-generational trend in taking river cruises.

Lee’s Summit’s tourism sector — the Visitors Council, Chamber of Commerce and some private travel-related businesses — did some research and found that one out of three “baby boomers plan to take a ‘multi-generational’ vacation within the next year,” according to James McKenna, Lee’s Summit’s branding manager, writing in the Lee’s Summit Journal — up about 14 percent from two years ago.

It’s not like the multi-generational travel of old, either. “These boomer grandparents don’t just go along to babysit the grandkids,” McKenna writes. “They’re more active (than their parents),” he adds, and, with more financial resources, often end up paying for the trip costs themselves. The boomer grandparents frequently take the lead in initiating the trips themselves as a way to spend more time with their offspring.

The city’s tourism promoters subsequently partnered with various interested parties around town — such as a family adventure park, a hotel, the local parks and recreation department, a fair, the local historical society, and historic downtown Main Street businesses — to try to lure boomers and their progeny to the area.

They picked as their test market Springfield, Missouri, which surveys had shown had many baby boomer residents who wanted to travel with their children and grandchildren.

This would “allow advertisers to target an isolated audience profile (including households with an average income of $100,000) with a message specifically crafted to speak to their needs, wants and desires,” McKenna noted.

Through advertisements, they were able to reach 126,000 magazine subscribers (as well as additional  readers in medical offices around Springfield) and get 200,000 web hits via online advertising. They also received editorial coverage magazines, which they got for free.

McKenna says that their efforts yielded a 72 percent return on their investment, and city coffers profited as well: sales tax receipts for Lee’s Summit’s hotels and motels jumped six percent.

“Based on the response of the test market,” McKenna concludes, ” we are now armed with vital information which would allow us to roll out the program to other similar populated markets.”

While it has its historic and family attractions, Lee’s Summit  is not famed as a tourist hotspot, but by clever use of targeted marketing it has come upon a very specific way of luring baby boomer travelers and their families to visit.

This makes more sense than employing many of the vague, one-size-hits-all — and often extremely expensive — marketing campaigns waged by many cities. Sometimes new logos alone can cost a city hundreds of thousands of dollars to design.

Think of what that money might yield if used instead for the kind of highly targeted marketing campaigns that Lee’s Summit has employed just to lure multi-generational family travelers headed up by baby boomers in other parts of Missouri.

The key is first doing the necessary research, then testing a target market, then implementing — a simple three-step process that works.

 

What do you think? Do big, flashy one-size-fits-all marketing campaigns work better than small, highly targeted campaigns in attracting visitors? Are they worth the money? I’d love to hear from anyone — marketer or traveler — whether or not we’re in agreement on this.

 

Be sure 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!

 

 

 

 

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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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