Key Traveler Demographic: Marketing to Baby Boomers & Senior Travelers
It goes without saying that generational differences are reflected in everything from fashion and food choices to financial and family planning — and it is no different when it come to how generational groups choose to travel. If internet memes and TikTok feuds are any indication, the lines between generations are more solidly drawn than ever — and they’re often a source of great entertainment for viewers!
Our personalities are of course not defined by the year we were born, and many people find themselves somewhere in between generations. However, these generational terms, like any demographic information, can be useful for marketers and business owners to help us understand audience preferences and to strategize the best ways to engage with each audience.
We’ve already shared our tips on marketing to Millennials and Gen Zers, and now we’re looking at another group: Silver travelers. This term is often used for travelers 60 years and older, which includes most Baby Boomers (born between 1946 – 1964) and older generations.
This is an important demographic for the travel and tourism industry because these so-called Silver travelers — particularly those who are retired — tend to have more disposable income and time to travel than do younger generations. According to an AARP survey:
Baby Boomers expect to spend $6,691 on average on travel for 2021.
Gen Xers expect to spend $5,000 and millennials $4,000 for 2021.
From a purely economic point of view, if you’re not thinking about this generation when marketing your tours and activities, you could be missing out on bookings and revenue for your business!
Keep reading to learn about the travel interests of this group — and our top tips for your marketing efforts.
Like any generation, senior travelers have many different motivations for planning a trip. Here are some of the types of experiences this travel group tends to look for.
- Bucket list experiences: We all have that great trip (or two!) we dream of taking someday, and for many the perfect time to finally hit the book button is in retirement. According to the same AARP survey, 36% of boomers mentioned visiting somewhere they’ve always wanted to go as a top travel pick.
- Multi-generational trips: Another popular travel trend is visiting a destination with the whole family — this includes kids, grandkids, extended family, pets, you name it. These types of trips mean large-group bookings for tours and attractions, and often private tours and activities!
- Solo travel: Not all Silver travelers are exploring with a large group in tow — 12% are interested in solo travel (AARP).
- Luxury trips to multiple destinations: AARP’s research shows that retired travelers are willing to spend more money to visit luxury destinations, and because they don’t have a limit on vacation days, they can enjoy longer trips.
- Escape, relaxation, activity, and education: Many people assume that senior travelers are looking for relaxing or non-adventurous trips, and this is certainly true for some. But many travelers of this generation are also looking for active experiences like hiking or biking as well as hands-on educational activities that immerse them in the local culture.
- However, older travelers do have a higher preference for sightseeing tours, museum visits, and high-quality dining.
- Peace of mind: Silver travelers do their research before booking an experience (more on this shortly), and they prefer packaged deals that give them peace of mind, knowing everything is covered.
- This includes tours and excursions with travel insurance, all-inclusive experiences with meals and transportation, and personalized outings that cater to their interests.
Marketing Tips for Silver Travelers
You’ve heard this sentiment countless times — age is just a number.
Nobody wants to be defined solely by their age, so be sure to avoid using age-related terms in your marketing. Senior travelers might technically fall into this category, but that doesn’t mean they want to be called “seniors.” And they’re definitely not doing Google searches for “senior travel.”
Pro tip: There is one exception to this rule. If you’re offering a discount for seniors, definitely call that out. Everyone loves a deal.
When crafting your marketing materials, use inclusive language that invites all travelers to participate in what you have to offer. Forget about age and focus on highlighting why people should come on your tours and activities. If senior travelers are your target audience, highlight what we mentioned above — like all-inclusive packages, relaxing experiences, and hands-on activities.
While you’re at it, ditch the stereotypical imagery. A tour or activity aimed at older travelers doesn’t exclusively have to be accompanied by an image of a white-haired man and woman. This isn’t what all senior travelers look like. You want your experiences to be inclusive of everyone, so be sure to use photos that reflect the diversity of your customers. Include travelers of all ages, couples, solo travelers, groups of friends, and everyone in between.
Silver travelers tend to take trip planning seriously. They spend a lot of time on the internet researching their destination, looking for the best experiences, and creating the perfect itinerary. This means that one of the best ways to engage them is by creating quality content that will help them with their planning.
This content could take the form of blog posts, videos, best-of lists, and more. Offer readers valuable information on your destination, such as the best places to eat, the top things to do, great local coffee shops, and hidden gems.
Need some blog inspiration? Check out these blog topic ideas by activity type.
Because Silver travelers spend considerable time in search engines doing trip research, it’s important that you have an updated, optimized Google My Business listing. This gives you a better chance of these travelers finding you on Google Maps as they’re exploring your location or performing local searches once they arrive.
Pro tip: Optimizing your profile is quick and absolutely crucial to your online marketing strategy, so don’t skip it! Review our GMB checklist to make sure your listing is up to par.
Highlight Local Experiences
Just because senior travelers often visit popular destinations doesn’t mean they want to get stuck at tourist traps. Just like any traveler, they want memorable local experiences that will give them a connection to the destination. Make sure your activity descriptions and marketing materials highlight the local or off-the-beaten-path experiences you offer.
This could include meals at local eateries, tastings of locally made wine, visits to farmer’s markets and artisan shops, stories and legends they can’t find anywhere else, or stops at amazing viewpoints.
Particularly in 2021, you might be wondering how or if COVID-19 comes into play. According to AARP –
54% of baby boomers are planning to travel in 2021.
Safety has become the number one priority, above the cost of travel or bucket list plans. The survey found that –
47% of boomers who intend to travel will only do so once the vaccine is available.
As the vaccine is rolled out at different paces around the world and some destinations lift their travel restrictions, we can expect silver travelers to begin resuming their trip plans. Seniors have been among the first to get vaccinated, so it’s especially worthwhile to market to this demographic as travel slowly picks up. Many are excited to see loved ones, and
57% planning a trip to spend time with friends or family.
These travelers are putting their research skills to good use. As they make their travel plans, they’re showing a preference for destinations and accommodations that have solid health and safety protocols in place.
Pro tip: Make your safety policies clear on your website, social media, and marketing materials to put older travelers at ease when booking with you, and ensure you highlight any flexible policies as it relates to rescheduling a tour and or issuing a refund. Find more tips on communicating health and safety policies.
Marketing to Silver travelers is not about singling out this demographic. It’s about understanding your audience and ensuring that you’re speaking to their interests and preferences. You’ve probably noticed that these marketing tips will help your business no matter who your target audience is, and that’s what inclusive marketing is all about!
Learn more about welcoming all types of travelers in our guide to accessible tourism.