Sunday, March 31, 2013

Not over the hill but climbing mountains: Seniors travel

Seniors are out there, trying new things, seeing new places and spending up big. They are travelling to exotic locations, immersing themselves in other cultures and looking for opportunities to learn and push personal boundaries. But findings in a research paper about seniors’ travel prepared by show this group of intrepid travellers is being misrepresented in travel marketing.

Directors of, Bronwyn White and Carolyn Childs want to get the message out there that seniors are packing their bags several times a year looking for adventure and that marketers need to start taking notice.

“Travel marketing for seniors would appear to be stuck in a time warp. Seniors don’t want to see ‘old people’ with grey hair walking hand in hand along the beach. They want to see themselves scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef or immersing themselves in South American culture – because this is what they are actually doing,” Bronwyn explains.

Research conducted by MyTravelResearch into the seniors’ travel market estimates that 4.4 million Australian seniors are active travellers. More than half of the respondents to the study travelled overseas in the past 12 months. One in five made more than five domestic trips during that period.

“We found seniors have the desire to travel and the time. They also have the discretionary income,” Bronwyn says.

From their research findings MyTravelResearch concluded marketers need to change their approach to win over this cashed-up demographic.

“Seniors are the new young, they have a real spirit of youth and an appetite to travel, learn and try new things. We are finding this a really hard message to get across to travel marketers and the travel industry alike,” Bronwyn explains.

A more realistic photographic representation of seniors would be showing them hiking in Bhutan or sampling the markets of Vietnam. And they write about their trips – tweeting, blogging and posting. They love to share their adventures.

This group of seniors will travel more regularly throughout their life than any other generation before them. To see the world in retirement is a lifestyle priority and it is a global phenomenon.

“Marketers need to throw out the brochures on caravans and shots of grey haired people in comfortable clothes. Seniors are invigorated, sexy and have a zest for life,” Bronwyn suggests.

The research shows seniors present a great opportunity for both the domestic and international travel industry. And it is time for the industry to give seniors what they want.

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