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Marketing to the Generations: Baby Boomers

As more Baby Boomers reach retirement they are ready to spend time traveling. Factors such as low housing costs, affordable education, and time to build savings have put many of that generation in a position of having disposable income. So, how do we persuade them to spend on travel?

While demographics aren’t everything when it comes to creating marketing campaigns—interests and travel intents should weigh heavily when creating target audiences—understanding the different generations and how to reach them only enhances your marketing strategy.

Who are baby boomers?

The United States Census Bureau defines baby boomers as those born between 1946 to 1964. By 2030, all baby boomers will be at least 65 years old and therefore will have reached the average retirement age.

How are baby boomers traveling?

While many baby boomers have been able to build considerable savings over the years, like all generations, they are pulling back on spending as inflation increases and fears of recession loom. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be traveling. 

According to an AARP survey, while older Americans anticipate spending over 40% less on travel in 2023  than the previous year, they will still spend an average of over $6,000 on trips this year. The survey also found that 61% of respondents, up from 51% in 2022, will be choosing domestic travel over international trips with the majority opting to drive to their destination.

Planning their travel

When it comes to reaching baby boomers planning to travel, Facebook stands as a solid option, with more baby boomers using it than any other social media platform. In fact, according to HubSpot’s State of Social Media Report, 91% of baby boomers surveyed visited Facebook within a three month period. YouTube came in just behind Facebook, as baby boomers’ second second favorite platform. 

Reaching baby boomers well ahead of their anticipated travel time is key, as baby boomers are more likely than younger generations to start trip planning early and to book accommodations farther in advance. Waiting until baby boomers arrive at their destination to serve them ads for activities, attractions, and dining experiences may be too late as Destination Analysts reports that baby boomers are well below the average for time spent actively planning or researching their trip after arriving in destination. The average time was 2.5 hours, with millennials and Gen Z travelers coming in above average at 3 hours in-market. But baby boomers reported only spending 1.4 hours planning and researching once in-market.

Baby boomers can also be an ideal audience for destinations with limited short-term rentals or ones with a considerable amount of hotel rooms as baby boomers opt for chain hotels more than any other generation. According to Morning Consult Research Intelligence, 32% of baby boomers making travel plans will stay in a hotel, with just 16% choosing a vacation rental.

The takeaways

Demographics aren’t one-size-fits-all and there are exceptions to just about everything. Limiting campaigns to solely target ages or specific stages in life can exclude potential travelers. However, keeping in mind generational differences can lead to more effective campaigns. 

Baby boomers are ready to travel and are largely financially able to afford it. But while they may be able to spend money more freely than other generations, they are not exempt from the economic concerns of inflation and recession. They are more likely to opt for destinations that they can venture to by car and will begin their travel planning and research well in advance of their trip, looking for deals and flexibility.

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