The number of Baby Boomers travelers is growing, with the volume of female Boomers traveling alone rising even faster, according to a variety of data sources and travel experts. In fact, Google search volume for “solo female travel” was 97% higher in 2018 compared to 2015, and the travel industry is responding quickly to the travel demand with companies specializing in women-only travel.
Baby Boomer travelers are different than voyagers from other generations. Here’s a look at the travel styles of Baby Boomers, what’s attracting female Boomers to solo travel and how tourism companies can engage these niche audiences.
Baby Boomers Like To Travel
Spending an average of $6,621 during 2019, most Baby Boomers plan to take four or five leisure trips this year, reported AARP in their 2019 Boomer Travel Trends study. The majority of Boomers will travel either only within the U.S. or both within the U.S. and internationally. Only 6% of Boomers plan to travel exclusively abroad.
California & Florida Dominate Domestic Boomer Travel
Florida and California are the most popular destinations for Boomers traveling domestically. New York is the top Northeastern travel spot, and Chicago ranks highest for the Midwest.
Domestic Boomer trips are typically classified as summer vacations, weekend getaways or multigenerational travel. Skip-generation (or skip-gen) trips fall into the last category. Skip-gen trips, during which grandparents take their grandchildren on vacation without the parents coming along, are practically always planned by and paid for by the grandparents.
Baby Boomers are almost as likely to drive to a domestic destination as they are to fly. Unlike younger generations, most boomers never consider Airbnb or its competitors when they travel. Boomers prefer hotel- and motel-style accommodations — especially when traveling within the U.S.
International Vacations Are Often Bucket List Trips For Boomers
Boomers are booking international travel earlier than they did in the past. The Caribbean and Europe, most prominently England, Italy and France, are the top international destinations for Baby Boomers, who are often checking something off their bucket lists when they travel abroad.
Plane is the most popular mode of travel for Boomers traveling abroad, but almost one-third of Boomers travel to international destinations by cruise ship.
Many Boomers look for tours that provide for interaction with locals as part of the vacation. Typically, by eating with or touring with locals, Boomers often believe the engagement provides for more authentic experiences.
Boomers Are Loyal To Airline & Hotel Loyalty Programs
Airline and hotel loyalty programs are important factors in the planning process for Boomer travelers. A generation proficient at saving, Boomers understand the value of accrued loyalty program points. As such, 75% of the time for air travel and 65% of the time for hotel stays, Boomers say they “always book” or “mostly book” with the brands for which they belong to loyalty programs.
Solo Boomer Travel – Especially For Women – Is Exploding
Female Boomers, including single women, married women and widows, are increasingly traveling alone or with friends. “We’ve seen the solo trend skyrocket in recent years,” noted Brian Fitzgerald, COO of Overseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T.). “They [solo female travelers] are life-long learners and often teachers or retired teachers.”
O.A.T. is a small-group tour company targeting travelers ages 55 and older. In 2010, 27% of their travelers were going solo. Now almost half of their clientele is traveling alone, and 85% of those travelers are women.
It’s easy to assume most of the solo female travelers are widows, but this is not the case, according to Fitzgerald. “Many are women who have a spouse at home who is not interested in traveling, so these women either go solo or choose to bring a girlfriend. Traveling solo is growing, but traveling as friends is growing even faster.”
Email Is A Great Avenue To Engage Female Boomer Travelers
Direct mail is often the top marketing channel that comes to mind when Baby Boomers are the target audience, but Boomers are now very much online. More than three-quarters of “young” Baby Boomers have smartphones, 87% are considered “internet users” and almost all of that group uses email.
Email marketing can be used to regularly engage female Boomer travelers with bucket list ideas, upcoming women-only trips and solo traveler trips. With the growth in female Baby Boomer travelers showing no signs of slowing, making sure your brand is top of mind when the next trip is getting planned should be a priority for travel companies targeting this audience.
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