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Why Baby Boomers are the Travel Consumers Truly Living their Best Lives



Redengine SCC’s Paul Isbell on the potential untapped market for travel brands

Why Baby Boomers are the Travel Consumers Truly Living their Best Lives

Log onto Instagram, and if you follow any “twenty somethings” You will come across an image (of a said young person on a tropical beach) that has been filtered in every which way possible and probably accompanied by the now cliched #livingmybestlife.

However, in reality it is more than likely all a façade. On a gap year, a cheap hostel beckons! Advertising to these audiences is undoubtedly big business, and they are the audiences that most tourism brands spend millions of dollars of revenue to target. However, although their perfectly edited photos on Instagram may portray the perception that they are leading perfect lives, the truth is that in reality their social accounts don’t reflect their day-to-day lives. The irony it is the audience segment that is most often ignored actually have the greater spending power, and they travel more frequently. 

The generation I speak of - Australia’s Baby Boomers.

The old adage that ‘you can’t take it with you’ is more evident than ever for Australian Babyboomers, They’re no longer in the mindset of ‘saving for a rainy day’ and with their children having flown the nest - they’ve no qualms about spending their money. Inheritance forget it, the kids can sort themselves out, it’s time to get out there and show the younger generation how it’s done. They’ve found a second wind, and it’s time to live life to the fullest – after all, youth is wasted on the young.

On that Instagram vs Real Life meme- here’s a new version. One where millennials may be flexing on the gram but the Babyboomer generation are out there flexing their financial muscles in reality. Without the family in tow and wanting to experience new things and adventures, it’s time to recover the lost years. Kids and work may have been the focus in their twenties, but now they can book a private air cruiser at $25k a pop to tour Australia or finally take that trip to Europe. 

The travesty is that less than 10% of tourism marketing budgets are aimed at the Babyboomer audience. In fact, Millennials get 500% more budget, yet take one trip a year. Which makes no sense when the average hotel budget for a Millennial is 60% less than a Boomer ($1,395 Boomer vs. $650 Millennial). Babyboomers in Australia who travel regularly have an estimated wealth of over a $1 million dollars (yes, later life has been kind), 50% plan to travel at least 2-3 times on domestic trips alone and 40% of this audience (Australian stats) who do travel spend between $11k and $60K per annum on travel. On a global scale, Australia ranks 3rd behind China and the US. 


Well, you should be! Using content, social and digital to target this audience is massively untapped by travel brands. ‘But they don’t use digital’ I can hear your mind shouting at me. Wrong! Let me dispel this myth straight away. This is an audience that are seeking connection and have now crossed over to digital to feel more connected, so it’s time to keep up. Forget thinking that the kids aren’t on Facebook (sidebar: they are, but using it in different ways) because their Mums are on it. It’s actually their Grandparents - 55% of this age group access Facebook once a day and 50% of them use YouTube at least twice a week. They are out there waiting, yet many travel brands still ignore them. They were the first workforce to get a computer, so they are familiar with tech and now they have caught up. According to research by Travel Marketing Decisions. They are also doing the following: 

- Researching travel on the internet thoroughly. In fact, 72% compare offers online

- 62% book online and paying with reputable travel agents

- 72% of Boomer consumers say that they consult social media before making a purchase, and 92% of consumers expressing a preference for personal testimonials

- iPads and iPhones are their best friends. Free Wi-Fi is a must wherever they stay. They are travelling more and want to be in constant contact with their family and friends

They are also travelling alone. That’s right, Tourism South Australia-  I said “Alone!” One of the reasons why I put pen to paper and started writing this article was that a couple of weeks ago, I saw an ad by the above tourism brand, and it made me really sad. ‘Don’t feel sorry for old mate, it is his own damn fault he didn’t visit Adelaide sooner’ is the tagline. I sat stunned after watching - which, creatively is exactly the point. 

Job done, it worked and it started a narrative. But like those that pretend to live their best lives over on Instagram, the assumption that just because you are old and alone, you can’t enjoy life is far from true and not a true reflection of how Australians who can travel, do! 

The narrative is a false one and let me tell you why. According to the stats 55% of Babyboomers prefer to travel alone (in fact solo travel tours have seen a 60% increase between 2013 and 18) and have the opportunity to meet new people.

Maybe Adelaide just isn’t at the top of their list?

At Redengine SCC we work on a number of travel brands that target this audience and you would be surprised to see the numbers. Our cost efficiencies of marketing to this audience are nearly a third cheaper and guess what Solo Tours are our number one booking option online for one of the brands we partner with.  

To market to an audience you need to understand them. We understand that this audience is rather more personable and human, not brand led, connections/communications. They seek travel memories and stories, not likes or validation. Leveraging the power of WOM and utilising real customers in the creative is far more powerful than pushing forced influencers or celebrities on them. And that means we get to tell a story – even on social – and so the onus is on us to make sure it is a compelling one! 

They are also not just seeking the tours that allow them to visit the main destination sites. They prefer slow travel that allows them to immerse in cultures and connect with the people and the heritage. Showcasing this should be a key part of your marketing outputs as well as local food, enrichment and learning.

Babyboomers choose both domestic and international as part of their itinerary so if you offer both, the opportunity to cross-market and utilise your existing CRM to upsell is huge. You just need to analyse the data and the trends will all be there sitting and waiting for you. Low hanging fruit, I think they call it! 

And just because this generation have been lucky enough to live fulfilled lives, doesn’t mean they want to be spoken to or treated in any way different that you would market to the Gen X (yes that’s me) segment. They are still young at heart, so it isn’t all slow walks and relaxation, inject a little personality into your brand narrative. After all that is the very point of content marketing -to humanise your brand and place a customer centric lens over your advertising to emotionally connect.

According to those in the know, Babyboomers will be the main driving force in the travel industry for the next two decades, so if your brand doesn’t have a creative sub-brand or campaign that targets this group, you are probably overlooking the opportunity to grow your revenue because this segment are spending and doing so at a frequent rate.

 They are the Australian travel consumer who really are #livingtheirbestlives.

Paul Isbell is strategy and social media director at Redengine SCC

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Red Engine SCC, Tue, 24 Sep 2019 12:42:20 GMT