The rise of silver tourism: How the travel industry can attract an older audience
The traveller and tourism industry has backed itself into a corner when it comes to marketing.
It seems to be all about generation X, Y and Z but the truth is that the industry is neglecting one of their biggest potential audiences – the over fifties.
The constant stream of images of young couples, families and backpackers in marketing materials are doing nothing to attract an older and frequently more affluent holidaymaker.
We take a look at what the travel industry can do to appeal to the older audience – how they can capture the attention, imagination of the fifty plus traveller with a renewed lust for life, time on their hands and deeper pockets than their younger counterparts.
Emphasise value but don’t obsess over price
When you’re not confined to annual leave or school holidays you can naturally take advantage of lower prices. It means the current focus on the trend of price comparison may be more suitable for young families and working adults than the older holidaymaker. Research suggests that half of those over fifty are prepared to spend more than £3,000 on a holiday (The Telegraph, 2015) making the older market a more affluent one to target. Mature travellers are looking for value but not necessarily the cheapest price so instead of obsessing about overall cost try to offer bonus night offers, food and beverage deals, late check-outs, or tie-ins with local service providers.
Put them in the picture
The travel industry is full of stereotypes – the young family, the businessman, backpacker, party-goer and honeymoon couple. And it’s easy to see these audiences played out in the imagery used across websites, brochures and advertising but what’s often forgotten is the older traveller. When you’re selling the idea of a holiday, people want to be able to picture themselves there – see themselves enjoying the facilities, walking along the beach or relaxing on the flight. If your imagery only shows the younger end of the market then you’re making it more difficult for older travellers to envisage themselves there – remember that good marketing is ageless.
Talk to the mindset, not the age
When the kids have flown the nest or you find yourself enjoying your retirement it’s often an opportunity to do something different – break the mold and feed your sense of adventure. According to ABTA members, older holidaymakers are travelling further and are seeking more active or adventurous holidays (ABTA Travel Trends 2016). The older traveller can be looking for once in a lifetime adventures as much as the twenty year old backpacker but this time they’ve got time and funds to fulfil their ambitions. Instead of creating campaigns aimed at age-related stereotypes, try speaking to the mindset instead of the age.
Introduce the independent woman
According to research over a third of travellers travel alone, with single females over 54 years of age making up a large proportion of this figure (Mail Online, 2015). The older female traveller is independent, looking to go long-haul and wanting to tick things off her bucket list – they may be divorced, widowed and looking to meet fellow travellers for new adventures. It’s important to recognise the rise of the older single traveller – scrap single-supplements, market new adventurous destinations to the older generation and offer more activities to bring solo travellers together during their stay.
The age of convenience
Tell your potential booker about the facilities, easy transfers, conveniently located airport and representatives that are available to help. Although it’s a cliché, the cruise and all inclusive break seem to still be a big pull for a certain segment of the older generation (ABTA Holiday Habits 2016) but it doesn’t mean that different options can’t still be marketed as convenient. Personalise your communications and web content to make it relevant to the customer and ensure it speaks to their individual customer needs. Make it easy for them to contact you – make sure your customer service number is freely available and try to cater for commonly asked questions from older holidaymakers in the FAQs section of your website.
Offer personal reassurance
Although 60% of older travellers research their holiday online, a third still prefer to book their holiday on the phone or with a travel agent (The Telegraph, 2015). Offer your audience a variety of options when booking a break – don’t force everyone down the same path regardless of age. Older people can sometime prefer speaking to a representative to ask questions and seek reassurance. And when looking for reassurance remember to feature the age and circumstances of reviewers in your marketing material. Older travellers are interested in hearing the views of travellers just like them – not from families or young couples who may have different expectations or demands on holiday.
With these tactics you’ll be able to launch campaigns that are relevant to the older traveller and tap into one of the biggest and untapped markets in travel and tourism.
It’s time to break free from the stereotyped marketing that distances marketers from this audience and remember that the older generation may have stopped work, but this doesn’t mean they’ve retired their sense of fun, adventure or spending power.