For years, advertising and marketing professionals have zoomed in on how to market to boomers—a voluminous pool of consumers. For many of those years, they had it right, but as this crowd ages (the oldest in their mid-70s; the youngest in their mid-50s), how to reach and work with them effectively is changing every day.
As many boomers are big travelers, it’s important to keep the following in mind when working with them:
- Boomers tend to be very open-minded and creative. Remember, this population has roots in the ‘60s. Don’t hesitate suggesting off-the-beaten paths and alternative ways to travel.
- Many boomers prefer to travel independently. While their parents might have only taken group trips, more and more boomers are going it alone, solo, as couples or with one or two friends. This is not to say they are do-it-yourselfers. They are happily working with agents who do all the research, booking and management of their trips.
- Brand loyalty is stronger than with younger generations. Boomers grew up with brand names driving many of the decisions they made. They’ll often ask for the big-name travel companies that have been established for decades, unaware that there are many smaller companies that may better suit their needs and interests.
- Don’t under-estimate how active boomers can be. A good number of our boomer clients run marathons, cycle many miles a day, play competitive tennis—you name it. When they travel, they’re hiking, kayaking, biking, climbing—there seems to be no limit.
And when it comes to money…
- Many don’t expect to pay travel agent design and management fees. They need to be educated.
- Some fancy themselves “do-it-yourselfers” until they book a few trips on their own and encounter one disappointment after another. We have quite a few of these “D.I.Y. refugees” who come to us because they don’t trust booking online themselves. This is not only in terms of the quality of the places they are seeking out, but fears of making mistakes with technology in the booking process. One woman said to me, “I am afraid I’m going to click through and find out I booked 40 rooms for my husband and myself.”
- Many protest paying via widely used online payment systems such as PayPal. Even after we explain that they can click through and pay securely with a credit card, we often hear “Can’t I just give you my card details?”
- Many want trip insurance until they see the cost. It’s important that agents know the various products and how to best advise their travelers.
- It’s critical that you understand your boomer’s actual budget for a trip. Some are on very tight budgets, while others see no reason to hold back on spending while traveling. Keep in mind that wording such as “money’s no object” or ”high-end” have different meanings to people. If you’re guessing, you might wind up losing a client because of sticker shock or you may disappoint them with properties and experiences that are not as exclusive as they had in mind.
Lastly, while we are seeing less and less of it, many of the older boomers still want
hard copies of itineraries. If you’re using smart itinerary software, they’ll quickly see that
they not only can print out a PDF, but they’ll come to love the ease and efficiency of the
Take the time to really understand your boomers and they’ll stay loyal to you for the days and years to come.
Susan Farewell is the owner of Farewell Travels LLC (FarewellTravels.com), a travel design firm based in Connecticut. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @FarewellTravels.