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Viking River Cruise boats glide through Europe. Photo from Viking.

Viking River Cruise boats glide through Europe. Photo from Viking.

The travel site Skift.com has just named its top 50 global travel marketers for 2013, including the senior vice president for marketing of Viking River Cruises, Rich Marnell.

Little wonder — Marnell was hired in 2007 as Viking’s director of marketing for North America, and since that time Viking’s share of the burgeoning European river cruise market has risen from 20 percent to fifty percent, remarkable considering that competition is getting increasingly fierce.

I’ve written previously about Viking River Cruises’ approach to marketing: a laser-like focus on their target customer — the classic baby boomer.

“What we’ve done is tailored the product experience for the 55+ culturally curious in mind,” Marnell told Skift. “We don’t try to be everything to everyone. For us, we see that as an advantage rather than a disadvantage.”

At a press conference last spring … Continue reading

The Little Havana Food Tour in Miami is one experience you can book at Peek.com. Photo from Miami Culinary Tours.

The Little Havana Food Tour in Miami is one experience you can book at Peek.com. Photo from Miami Culinary Tours.

Let’s say you’re on your way to San Francisco and you’re looking to do things beyond the standard trip to Fisherman’s Wharf, a stroll through Golden Gate Park, or a cable car ride.

Maybe you’d like a sailing tour of San Francisco Bay, a walking tour through North Beach, an electric bike tour of San Francisco, or a food and farm tour of Marin County.

Or maybe you didn’t even know these latter possibilities existed.

This is where a relatively new website called Peek.com comes in. You can go to the site, click on San Francisco (there’s a colorful box with a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge on the home page), and an array of possible activities will come up, organized by categories: Food and Drink, Romantic, Under $50,… Continue reading

Spaceport America -- will it revive the fortunes of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico? Photo from Spaceport America.

Spaceport America — will it revive the fortunes of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico? Photo from Spaceport America.

Baby boomers of a certain age may vaguely recall when a small town in southern New Mexico, then called Hot Springs due to the natural hot springs in the area, agreed to change its name in 1950 to Truth or Consequences.

Ralph Edwards, the host of a popular radio and soon-to-be TV quiz show (called, of course, Truth or Consequences) offered to broadcast the show from any town that would change its name to, you guessed it, Truth or Consequences, in honor of the show’s tenth anniversary. Edwards returned every year for decades on the anniversary, and Truth or Consequences turned the occasion into a celebration called the T or C Fiesta. (The town is now usually referred to simply as T or C by the locals).

T or C gained… Continue reading

As airlines get more crowded, annoyances get more pronounced.

As airlines get more crowded, annoyances get more pronounced.

Recently we railed against the possibility that cell phones might be allowed to be used during airplane flights, but thankfully that hasn’t happened yet.

However, we all know of plenty of other annoyances that arise during just about any flight, ranging from people hogging the overhead bins (especially the one that’s directly above your seat) with too many carry-on bags, to passengers who recline their seats into your lap while you’re trying to eat, to crying children ignored by their parents.

Now a survey is out that ranks the annoyances in order from most annoying on down. The 2013 Airplane Etiquette Study, conducted by Northstar, surveyed 1,001 U.S. adults to find out which in-flight behaviors bugged them the most.

The dubious winner: Inattentive Parents. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they “often feel annoyed” at parents of screaming or otherwise loud… Continue reading

Baby boomer travelers needn’t be hostile to hostels — or vice versa — if they choose carefully.

I’ve written in previous posts about a new breed of hostels, arising especially in Europe, that are catering to travelers looking for a bit more comfort and privacy than the youth hostels of our, well, youth. Some even fall into the luxury category, at least as far as any hostel qualifies as luxurious.

But how do you find the kind of hostel that, say, offers private rooms, including en suite washrooms? The kind that might appeal to the typical baby boomer? That’s where the website hostelworld.com comes in.

Is there a hostel in Bukhara, Uzbekistan? If so, I'm there!

Is there a hostel in Bukhara, Uzbekistan? If so, I’m there!

At Hostelworld, you can find hostels in just about any price category in more than 180 countries around the globe, some 30,000 properties in all. (The website also lists B&Bs and budget-priced hotels around… Continue reading

A Chianti vineyard in Tuscany is included on the Gold Standard tour of Italy offered at Zicasso. Photo from Zicasso.

A Chianti vineyard in Tuscany is included on the Gold Standard tour of Italy offered at Zicasso. Photo from Zicasso.

Zicasso — an online service that matches travel agent specialists with luxury travelers to plan memorable customized trips around the globe — is touting five specially planned trips on five different continents to mark its fifth anniversary in business.

The five tours promise experiences and access beyond the ordinary. They include the “Gold Standard Culinary and Art Tour of Italy,” the “Ultra Luxury South African Safari,” the “Australian Family Adventure,” the  “Insider’s Guide to Brazil,” and “Off the Beaten Path China.”

Along with the tours, Zicasso is offering an intriguing promotion: the first five travelers to book all five tours by the end of 2013 will receive free roundtrip airfare to all five. The airfare is in coach class and must be used by 2015.

Of course,… Continue reading

Nelson Mandela's life is the focus of two tours now being offered by separate African safari operators.

Nelson Mandela’s life is the focus of two tours now being offered by separate African safari operators.

Sad news: Just hours after posting the item below, I learned that Nelson Mandela had died today. Following in his footsteps in South Africa would be an appropriate way to honor his life.

 

I don’t know who had the idea first, or whether it was simultaneous and coincidental, but two African safari outfitters have come out with similar trips tracing the “footprints” — or “footsteps,” depending on the tour company — of South African liberation hero Nelson Mandela.

Both are touting their trips as complementing the recent release of the film Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom, and both are meant to highlight milestones and significant sites in Mandela’s life.  

One outfitter, Great Safaris, is offering a trip called “Madiba’s Journey: In Nelson Mandela’s Footprints,” while the other, African… Continue reading

Jerusalem ranks fourth on TripAdvisor's list of global destinations

Jerusalem ranks fourth on TripAdvisor’s list of global destinations “on the rise.” Photo by Clark Norton

Which destinations do travelers really want to go to right now — as opposed to ones that they might only be dreaming about for the future?

The always informative travel news site skift.com has a piece that tries to answer that question, based on “millions of searches and reviews” on the mega-review site TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor has come out with lists of “places that have seen the greatest increase in positive traveler feedback and traveler interest” of late — in short, destinations that are “on the rise.”  

The destinations are listed in “top ten” order globally as well as for the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America and the South Pacific. The lists reflect all age groups so there’s no way of knowing what percentage were baby boomers  doing the searching.

Here, according… Continue reading

Baby boomers ride the Rogue River while rafting with ROW Adventures. Photo from ROW Adventures.

Baby boomers ride the Rogue River while rafting with ROW Adventures. Photo from ROW Adventures.

We’ve had Black Friday (which actually began Thursday), Small Business Saturday, Return-Home Sunday (I made that up), Cyber Monday, and now comes Adventure Tuesday from ROW Adventures.

ROW Adventures, which I’ve written about in previous posts, is a top-flight adventure travel outfitter based in Idaho. As owner Peter Grubb told me last summer, one of his top target markets is baby boomer travelers, especially for international trips — though boomers also do their share of kayaking and whitewater rafting in Idaho and elsewhere.

Now’s the time to lock in some savings if you want to take a ROW trip next year.

ROW’s Adventure Tuesdaypromotion offers discounts on a number of upcoming trips if you book from 9 am PST (12 noon EST) Tuesday December 3 until 5 pm PST (8… Continue reading

Monticello -- Jefferson's home, which appears on the U.S. nickel coin. Photo by Clark Norton

Monticello — Jefferson’s home, which appears on the U.S. nickel coin. Photo by Clark Norton

I spent last week in Charlottesville, Virginia, visiting family over Thanksgiving, and found it to be a very livable — and visit-able — city, which I highly recommend for baby boomer travelers.

Mostly I knew it as the home of the University of Virginia and Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, both of which were designed by our third president. Those two sites alone would warrant a visit, but anyone interested  in history, outdoor activities and good food would find a welcome respite in Charlottesville.

Now here are ten things I didn’t know about Charlottesville:

Montpelier, home of President James Madison. Photo by Lia Norton

Montpelier, home of President James Madison. Photo by Lia Norton

* Some of the most coveted and prestigious student residences at the University of Virginia have no bathrooms. These are historic ground-floor single rooms facing the Lawn, the long… Continue reading

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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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