The baby boomers are arriving at early retirement and those of us in the travel industry have been waiting patiently. This gigantic group of more than 76 million Americans have huge spending power: One estimate suggests that the baby boomer generation accounts for about 50% of all discretionary spending and about 80% of today’s leisure travel (data from http://www.thirdage.com). Keeping in mind the changing characteristics of the maturing adult, now is the time to make your adjust your brand image and product offering to meet their needs.
People approaching retirement today have become much more technology savvy than previous generations. If you advertise online, do not assume that a senior discount is the only way to draw attention to your brand. Incorporate pictures of seniors in graphics, create special web pages showcasing target products, and stay on top of online forums and groups where you can highlight your product and create an impact.
Senior citizens will continue to like packaged products. A hotel that works with a nearby restaurant to provide a special meal package allows both venues to increase sales…. Just be sure that your brands compliment each other! Value added travel experiences are not new but with the size of the upcoming retirement population, it is worth revamping your product image and cooperating with others to create an experience the mature consumer will enjoy.
If you are in the hospitality industry, make sure your interior and exterior lighting is good, stairs kept to a minimum, entertainment is age-appropriate, and product has the retirement crowd in mind. A great suggestion would be to contact a local senior citizen activity center and invite a few folks over to visit. Show them what you offer and ask for their thoughts.
In any case, get ready because the baby boomers are a big crowd with a big impact!
A few years ago I was at the National Tour Association’s “Spring Meet” in Uncasville, Connecticut. Tour operators, suppliers, and destination management companies converged to discuss a number of industry issues. Hot then – and still hot now – is how to turn brands “green” (toward environmental sustainability), capture customer appreciation toward this, and reduce costs. That last bit was challenging in 2006; I remember one hotel sales executive saying that using bio-friendly washing detergent for linens was extremely cost prohibitive. I wonder where things have gone since then?
The trend to become green was and is not going to stop. In 2008, Starwood Hotels launched the “Element Hotels by Westin” brand in Lexington, Massachusetts. Element is the first major hotel brand to mandate all properties adhere to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The hotels feature expansive natural lighting to reduce energy costs, public spaces and flooring developed from recycled content, smart in-room recycling techniques, water and waste reduction technologies, and even… get this…. the old paper “do not disturb” cards have been replaced with magnets! Smart and functional, Element is definitely part of the eco-chic revolution in hospitality.
The travel industry as a whole has lot of responsibilities: We have to protect and ensure safety of the consumer and ourselves, we have to provide value to the consumer; and we must move toward environmental responsibility in the products and services we provide. Consumers of all kinds are now choosing to patronize brands that reduce the impact on the world’s natural resources. So if you ignore your impact on Mother Earth, you might just lose a sale!
Will you come up with a new way that the travel industry can improve sustainability?
Leave a comment here or email firstname.lastname@example.org