With summer vacation memories preserved on social networks everywhere, marketers are eager to identify the next trend among American travelers. The one most likely to pay off, however, is not new. It is the same one that has kept travel businesses afloat since the recession. That is, the growing market of 50+ travelers, three in four of whom are Baby Boomers.
The following seven reasons explain why 50+ travelers will rule the airways, railways and hotel hallways into 2014 and beyond.
1. Market Domination
Fifty-plus travelers are the lifeblood of the travel industry. They are responsible for 48% of all vacation expenditures, up from 42% just five years ago—a trend that will continue as 50+ population growth outpaces that of 18-49 by a 3:1 margin over the next decade, according to the U.S. Census. Companies looking to grow will compete hard for this market’s expanding business.
2. Recession-proof Spending
People 50+ consider travel more of a necessity than a luxury, as evidenced by a post-recession increase of 25% in their travel spending. Since 2007, 50+ vacation spending is up nearly $20 million, compared to a $1.7 billion drop among 18-49. With travel being their #1 leisure pursuit, 50+ are a sure bet for marketers who are increasingly required to justify every dollar in their budgets.
3. ROI Potential
When people 50+ hit the road, they invest more in the experience than younger travelers, spending 23% more on domestic vacations and 22% more on foreign vacations. They are significantly less likely than younger travelers to use cheaper lodging and transportation alternatives, such as renting rooms in homes and carpooling. Luxury travel marketers take note: 50+ are 45% more likely than younger travelers to spend $5,000+ per year on domestic vacations, and 75% more likely to spend $8,000 per year on foreign vacations.
4. Market Expansion
With more time and money at their disposal, older Boomers eager for new experiences are growing the 60+ segment of the travel market. Since Boomers started turning 60 just seven years ago, the 60+ travel market has grown by 24%, or 3.6 million travelers. Working on their bucket lists, more than 70% of older Boomer travelers prefer to travel to places they have never been, providing an opportunity for less well-traveled destinations to rack up sales.
5. Travel Urgency
Trend-tracker, Iconoculture, identifies younger Boomers as one of today’s top two travel segments. In the aftermath of the recession, younger Boomers are concerned there won’t be enough money in retirement to live the good life, so they value gratification that can be realized today, according to the firm. Travel is uniquely positioned to deliver “messaging that speaks to finding enjoyment in today,” which Iconoculture advises, will resonate well with younger Boomers.
6. Niche Growth
Boomers’ thirst for travel drives industry innovation. According to Forbes.com, Boomers are at the core of several travel trends, including: ecotourism, adventure travel, medical tourism, multigenerational travel, passion/hobby vacations (that is, combining a vacation with a passion, such as biking, language learning, food, wine, etc.), and spiritual travel. This provides opportunities for smaller travel marketers specializing in niche travel, as well as bigger brands that offer niche travel opportunities.
7. Plugged In
The 50+ market has embraced digital media as a means of learning about new products and services. In fact, they are responsible for over 40% of all online expenditures. While they are often-overlooked in the digital world, they are a prime target for online travel marketing—16 million Americans over 50 go online every month to make travel plans, a number that has grown by 31% in the last five years.
From across the state to around the world, no one travels more than the Boomer+ market. If you want your sales to take off along with them, make Boomer+ your marketing destination in 2014 and beyond.