When the first wave of America’s baby boomers turn 65 on January 1, 2011, they will represent a monumental question for the travel industry: How will the healthiest, wealthiest and most active generation of seniors in history behave? That was exactly the question posed by Preferred Hotel Group in an extensive new research study of baby boomers.
“The answer is extremely encouraging,” says Lindsey Ueberroth, president of Preferred Hotel Group. “Unlike their parents’ generation, baby boomers don’t consider themselves ‘old’ at 65. Our findings show that just the opposite is true."
"The Boomer generation is more physically active than any in history. They are veteran travelers. And now, with more time available as they reach traditional retirement age, they say they are going to intensify their pursuit of travel, new experiences and adventure.”
Some of the findings are surprising: Boomers constitute almost one-half (47%) of active American leisure travelers. Two-thirds (66%) have taken a leisure trip to celebrate a life event like an anniversary or birthday. Other findings are more subtle: Boomers are more likely to travel as a couple and, since 40 percent are grandparents, more likely to travel in multi-generational trips. More than two-thirds (68%) have a valid passport.
Ueberroth presented these findings December 7 in Cannes at the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM). Preferred Hotel Group teamed up with Ypartnership, a research company in the travel, leisure and lifestyle category, to study the behaviors of more than 2,500 adult travelers. The specific boomer generation data was derived from a subset of 1,185 respondents.
Some of the study's findings:
• Boomers want it all – Former luxuries are now considered necessities, including travel and fine dining.
• Family legacy is key – Concerned about legacy, boomers will amp up their pursuit of multi-generational travel. Four in 10 of all boomers are now grandparents. Spending time with loved ones matters.
• Online rules – This is a group that researches everything in-depth on the Internet and makes buying decisions online – including booking travel.
• Savvy at social media – Yes, they have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. And they use them.
• They want to take their travel experiences to the next level – Collectively, baby boomers are already world travelers. They backpacked through Europe as teens and have trotted the globe since. They now want more.
• Aspirational, experiential, sustainable, interactive, thematic – These are the types of travel that appeal to this group. No bus tours for this crowd. Instead, boomers seek self-fulfillment, a connection to nature, authentic world cultures and active involvement with every travel experience.
• They are all foodies – Whether they are eating as locavores in Thailand or harvesting grapes in France, culinary tourism scores off the charts.
• Comfort meets adventure – They want both. Zip lining over a forest canopy and trekking by day before fine dining and a comfortable bed by night is the formula that works for them.
In 2011, Preferred Hotel Group will introduce a number of ongoing promotions celebrating boomers’ appetite for travel. Beginning in January, a “Happy Birthday Boomer” package will provide compelling incentives for them to engage their newfound freedoms at Preferred Hotel Group members around the world. In addition, an interactive “Bucket List” contest will fulfill a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. The company is also developing a targeted advertising campaign focused on these sophisticated, young-at-heart travelers.