By Rieva Lesonsky
Do you own a travel or tourism-related business? Then I sure hope you’re considering Baby Boomers in your marketing plans. Speaking as a Boomer myself, I know this generation loves to travel. The recession may have caused Boomers to cut back on spending in some ways, but when it comes to travel, it’s actually helped spur spending. Why? One takeaway from the recession for Boomers is that we’re putting more emphasis on experiences rather than “things”—and we’re willing to pay for great, life-changing experiences like travel.
Nancy Shonka Padberg of Navigate Boomer Media recently shared some insights on Boomer travelers over on MediaPost. Here are seven areas of travel she believes will be hot with Boomers in the coming years.
- Religion: Trips to Holy Land areas including Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Italy, Portugal and France attract more than 900,000 people over 55 each year. While Padberg notes most Americans who make this type of trip are Christians, to me that indicates a niche for tours catering to different religions.
- Eco-tourism: Green consciousness isn’t just for younger consumers. Padberg reports The UN World Tourism Organization predicts some 1.6 billion environmentally oriented trips by 2020. This type of tourism can include camping, hiking, trekking and more.
- Adventure tourism: As I always say, today’s Boomers aren’t yesterday’s grandparents. We’re staying fitter longer and still participating in active sports like biking, running, rock climbing, scuba diving and even triathlons. Padberg cites stats from the Adventure Travel Trade Association that adventure travel racked up $89 billion in 2009 and is poised for even more growth. Put this in the category of “experiences” that Boomers want to notch on their belts.
- Culinary travel: Food and wine are passions for many Boomers. Padberg notes that Holland Cruises has had great success with culinary cruises, but there are many other ways to work food and wine into travel, such as winery tours or trips themed around a particular cuisine.
- Destination weddings: I reported on the popularity of weddings in my book 23 Hot Businesses to Start Right Now, but Padberg notes that Boomer weddings are on the upswing, with people age 50-plus accounting for the fastest-growing group of online daters today. With no one to please but themselves, no wonder Boomers are spending their share of the $5 billion spent annually on destination weddings.
- Multigenerational vacations: A recent study by MetLife showed grandparents are spending more on their grandchildren, and one way they’re doing so is by buying family vacations. This could range from a family reunion in a domestic camping area or resort to an all-out trip to Europe. Padberg says such trips are often tied to big events like anniversaries or other milestones.
- Medical tourism: This might surprise you but Padberg says that the Medical Tourism Association reports medical travel is a $60 billion industry. With more Boomers looking to cut their skyrocketing healthcare bills, they’re heading overseas to places like Singapore, Thailand, India, Mexico, Costa Rica, Jordan, Turkey and Brazil.
As Padberg notes, these seven categories are just the tip of the Boomer travel iceberg. Think about what Boomers you know like to do, whether it’s golf, antiquing or racing cars, and you might just have the inspiration for a new branch of your travel business.
Image by Flickr user kokorowashinjin (Creative Commons)