From Blue Rinse to Blue Skies

Our seniors travel research has been gaining an enormous amount of interest and publicity since we published it 6 months ago. The interest comes  mostly from mainstream press (it is a great story).  We have been on TV, in all the national newspapers, marketing magazines and positioned as being on the forefront of seniors travel research. We have also had marketers from other  industries look at the research.  Oh yes, I think we had 1 article from a travel publication.  I guess what is prompting me to write this article, is that we are a little bit concerned that the travel industry doesn’t seem to be as excited about our seniors travel research as everyone else is.

The seniors travel market is 4.4 million strong and many people in the travel industry, don’t really seem to be interested in really taking marketing to them seriously…that is, changing their marketing ways.

Those who have bought or seen the research have been completely blown away.  These are people and organisations who are starting a journey of true brand differentiation for this market.  And please don’t get me wrong, this is not a sales pitch.  We are not really judging the disinterest by the number of people who have purchased the research, but more so, the travel industry’s overall general response and willingness to at least talk about it.

Our responses range from range from disinterest to disbelief to “oh, sounds interesting”.  I guess what we are trying to say here is like with many things within the industry, there are opportunities alive for growth, if we are willing to grow with out customers.  And it seems to be loud and clear for us, that many in the travel  industry, for some reason, do not want to adjust to the changing marketing needs of the senior traveller.  We still talk about caravan and camping shows, brochure design and  ‘collateral’.  Some old hat methods just don’t cut it anymore.  They can also be costly measures…measures that tend not to be measurable.

Here are our top tips on what you need to know about the seniors travel market in an effort to whet your appetite:

  1. We will never see another demographic with so much spare cash and spare time in our marketing life times – these people are gold and largely being ignored by the travel industry when it comes to marketing, particularly domestic marketing.  They are being marketed to the same old way as we have been doing for the last however many years.
  2. They have the time to invest in research.  This is something we have seen consistently in many focus groups of this segment, as well as this study.  They spend hours upon hours searching and exploring on the internet.  Most of this research is done on the Internet.
  3. They can no longer be distinguished as a segment on the internet not surfing as much as others – they are on there and connected as much as everyone else, especially the avid, passionate travellers.
  4. The results of our research challenge the stereotype of seniors as the luddite blue rinse brigade. In fact the over 55s are embracing the internet as a way of immersing themselves in the endless possibilities of travel. We see them – and not the much-hyped Gen Ys – as the true ‘risk takers’; they are looking for adventure, immersion in culture, and freedom and flexibility on their travels.
  5. Many of them have an adventurous destination wish list. And importantly, they have the means to pay for this adventurous – and sometimes expensive – travel.
  6. Often not content with happy snaps and photo’s, we hear about seniors blogging along the way and publishing their stories for others to enjoy. Check out the blogs of one of our seniors travel panelists.  She travels half domestic and half international throughout each year:   Travel Passion and Hello Bhutan

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