Baby boomers are spending big on luxury travel.

March 24, 2020



From special contributor Paul Flowers, President of Circa 46.

These days, much is made about the explosive rise of Millennials as the generation travel brands cannot afford to ignore. And while there’s plenty of truth to that, it’s also true that Baby Boomers continue to spend big on travel each year– 20% to 50% more per trip than their Gen X or Millennial counterparts. Boomers are opting for longer trips, upgraded accommodations and more shopping while sightseeing. All of which means more revenue for the travel brands that are paying attention.

Luxury travel brands, in particular, would be wise to sit up and take notice. The senior cohort has more free time and more resources than any other generation in history, making them ideal prospects for luxury travel. In fact, ADWEEK reports 29% claim they prefer to spend their discretionary dollars on luxury vacations more than anything else. The greatest luxury travel spending is by seniors, ages 70-85. The upper end of that range (80+), which does not spend as much as on travel as those under 80, still outspends travelers in their ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s.

Let's take a look at just where those boomer dollars are going, and how your brand can cash in.

Comfort is King

For senior leisure travel, focus on comfort. It is generally a senior’s top priority. These older travelers tend to fly business class and they are more likely to stay in 3- and 4-star hotels, even if that means a shorter trip or visiting fewer locations. And they love cruises. In fact, 42% of senior travel spending in 2019 will go to cruises – specifically on luxury cruise lines. At this point in their lives, older travelers want mental and physical comfort. They’re also willing to pay for it. If you are selling luxury travel, these are your customers.

Europe Calls

More than half of senior travelers will travel internationally in 2019. Over 40% of those will go to Europe, with England, France and Italy being the most popular destinations. Another third will go to the Caribbean, South or Central America.

Experiences and Stimulation

More than 50% of senior travelers choose vacation destinations based on cultural value. Travel options that offer new experiences, education and adventure in exotic places are seductive offerings, as traveling Boomers seek authentic experiences, especially regarding meals or when taking tours on international trips. The point here is, make sure there is purpose to the travel experience you are marketing.

Multigenerational Travel

The single biggest driver for Boomer travel is to spend time with family and friends (57%). Intergenerational trips allow them to spend time with their children and grandchildren that is relaxed and fun. More than three-quarters of the time, Boomer grandparents will plan and pay for most – if not all – of the trip.

To take the multigenerational thing a step further, according to AARP 32% of grandparents have taken their grandchildren on a skip-generation trip, leaving mom and dad at home. 15% of Boomers are planning to do so in 2019. If your travel packages offer a menu of experiences and activities for a broad spectrum of ages, multigenerational travel can generate serious income.

As Boomers transition into retirement, luxury travel ranks among their top activities. The idea of saving for the kids’ inheritance is not a factor any more, as most seniors who travel have kids who want them to get out and spend it!