Marketing to Seniors: Why Marketers Should Be Aware of Gramping

July 6, 2022


It’s no secret that grandparents dote on their grandchildren – to the tune of $179-billion annually, according to the CSA Journal[1]. 80% call their grandchildren a top priority in their lives. So it should also come as no surprise that traveling with grandchildren is a big deal for many older adults. In fact, when Virtuoso surveyed 1,000 travel advisors in 2019, they identified multigenerational travel as their number one travel trend.

Many of these trips are being planned without the parents! According to the 2019 AARP “Grandparents Today” survey, a whopping 61% of grandparents expressed interest in traveling alone with their grandchildren, and 32% had already done so.[2]

There’s a term for this. It’s called “gramping” – grandparents and grandchildren bonding on trips, while leaving the parents at home. Before COVID-19 derailed the travel industry, the gramping trend was on the rise. And the trend is beginning to regain its momentum again.

The term “gramping” originally evolved from “glamping,” which has to do with high-end, luxury camping trips. But while camping trips with grandkids is certainly gramping, the term now relates to pretty much any kind of generation-skipping travel.

There are a lot of factors that make gramping attractive for the entire family. Beyond the relationship-building between grandparents and grandchildren fostered by generation-skipping travel, gramping allows the grandparents to step in for parents who may not have the vacation time or discretionary spending power to travel with their kids each year. Furthermore, it gives the parents a break from child-rearing.

Furthermore, there is research that suggests there are additional benefits for the grandparents: looking after grandchildren can boost grandparents’ energy, cognitive powers and can even act as an anti-depressant. And don’t underestimate the benefits of good, old-fashioned fun!

Gramping Opportunity

Ponder for a moment the fact mentioned above, that 61% of grandparents would consider a generation-skipping vacation with grandchildren. Recognizing there are roughly 70-million grandparents in America, a case can be made that 42,700,000 are potential prospects for travel with their grandchildren, not to mention ancillary products and services!

And as stated above, this travel consumer group is already predisposed to spend on their grandkids.

Needless to say, this is fertile ground for travel marketers!

What Are Gramping Grandparents Looking For?

The optimum gramping destination is one where the onus of entertaining the grandkids doesn’t fall solely on the grandparents. They want programming that doesn’t always require their participation, and they want their grandkids to have an option to spend some of the vacation hanging with other kids. That said, grandparents aren’t there just to watch their grandkids have fun, either – they want opportunities to participate in activities with their grandchildren.

Activities need to be interesting and appealing to both age groups, whether the activities are sightseeing, adventure, educational or simply fun. But also recognize that as they age, grandparents experience declining physical capacity. So, activities need to be somewhat scalable, in order to adapt to grandparents’ varied physical capabilities. Dining options need to be broad enough satisfy both cohorts, too.

Gramping options can include cruises, nationals and state parks, beaches, lakes, museums, theme parks and more.

Selling Grandparents on Gramping

If you are promoting a travel destination or venue that can be attractive to both of these demographic groups, the selling proposition is not all that complicated:

  1. Introduce the idea – and benefits – of gramping to your older clients and prospects.
  2. Demonstrate how your venue/destination provides easy ways for grandparents to spend time and build memories with their grandchildren.

As grandparents age, they recognize the window for spending quality time with their growing grandchildren is shrinking. A lot of them have the time, money and motivation to make memories with their grandkids, before that window closes. When presented with the opportunity to gramp, many will jump at the chance and grab it.

[1] CSA Journal, Vol. 4, 2021
[2] Grandparents Today Survey; AARP, 2019