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Boomers: Have cash, have time, will travel

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5 min read

The catchphrase “OK Boomer” has given rise to a multitude of memes and merchandise over the past year, poking fun at the world’s ageing baby boomer population – and perhaps even dismissing them as a generation with diminishing clout and influence.

That, of course, would be a mistake.  Born between the end of WWII and the mid-1960s and entering the workforce during a time of economic prosperity, able to build wealth and save, now retired (or retiring) baby boomers remain a force to be reckoned with.  And just one example, is in the world of travel and tourism. In fact, there may never be another generation with quite as much disposable income – or with as much time on their hands.

According to Bronwyn White, co-founder of MyTravelResearch.com, today’s seniors “were our first backpackers, The Lonely Planet generation, exploring corners of the globe way before the internet could tell us what was there or our friends on social media could tell us it was cool or not”.

Boomers are fit, vital and young at heart.  White reminds us that Boomers are the generation that forged societal change like no other generation in living memory. A product of “the swinging sixties” and the seventies, their generation saw more sexual freedom (and the impact of the contraceptive pill), the rise in feminism, and the rise of the yuppie (remember them?).  They were wild, adventurous and exploratory.  According to White, many are now looking to rekindle the fire through travel adventures once the kids leave home. Even better? They have money in their pocket.

But how do you appeal to savvy senior travellers? Firstly, don’t refer to them as seniors. Boomers don’t see themselves as “seniors” – rather they are active and adventurous.  Stay away from patronising ‘golden oldie’ stereotypes, and appeal to Boomers with new experiences, value offerings and respect.

Tapping into the senior market? Here are a few more tips:

Remember age is not a number – it’s a mindset

Forget white-haired grannies flashing their OAP (old-aged pensioner) card for discounts. Rather,  ensure your images and photos reflect mindset over age. In other words, appeal to a broad group of people with diverse interests and beliefs with “ageless” images and messages, and, if in doubt, go younger!

Emphasise value

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to the senior travel market is that they are looking for a bargain. Rather, value is key. This generation is cash rich, and with plenty of time to research, White believes they are looking for value for money and this could be anything from travelling in off-peak periods (perfect for couples no longer worried about school holidays), value-adds,  bonus/extra night offers, food and beverage deals, early check-in and late check-out, or special deals with local operators.

It’s the perfect opportunity for smaller establishments and operators to design packages with added-value, including food tours, wine tastings, local excursions, shuttles etc.  

  • Concentrate on content

Although Boomers are not typically on social media platforms for any amount of time, they are online. White says seniors will “literally spend hundreds of hours on the internet, whether it be for domestic or international travel, over the course of the customer journey”.

In fact, even once senior travellers have booked their trip, their content consumption does not stop there. They continue to scour the internet for information, tips and advice well into the trip. Think out-of-the-ordinary excursions and things to do, restaurants, reviews, what to pack and more.

Make sure that your site has relevant, useful, helpful, unique and up-to-date content! Of course, it can’t be boring either. Travellers, no matter their age, are looking for exciting, mouth-watering content to tempt and entice.  

  • Create trust

But while, you’re creating fantastic content, you also need to create trust. In fact, you need to be an expert on your region and offering. Although older travellers are looking for adventure, their years of “slumming it” or “flying by the seat of their pants” are probably over. They are looked for reliable, vetted operators who can provide solid service and trusted advice.

But what information should you include? White believes your website should cover useful info like:

  • Things to do close by
  • Public transport options near your hotel or enterprise
  • Great restaurants in the area
  • A list of local markets and events
  • Easy-to-use maps
  • Where to get the best coffee

It goes without saying that this type of information should be easy to find, accessible and all in one place.  In other words, ensure your site is both informative and easy to navigate.

  • Celebrate life

Importantly, Boomers are ready to enjoy life sans children (especially after an almost global COVID-19 lockdown). Local operators need to create content that celebrates local stories, hidden gems, food and wine, and unforgettable (even life-changing) experiences.

The world’s “first backpackers” are hitting the road once again – and we need to be ready to welcome them with open arms. In the words of White: “We will never see another business sector like the over+50s economy. Increase your relevance, connect, create loyalty, raving fans and increase your revenue!”

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