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Four Generations of Travelers Mean Four Kinds of Travel Marketing

Posted June 14, 2016

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Much of the talk about travel marketing focuses on the Millennials, who are coming into their own: the oldest Millennials are starting to form families, while the youngest Millennials have entered the workplace and have disposable income to spend. A lot of other travel marketing talk focuses on the Boomers, who've started to retire.

It's easy to lose sight of the other two generations also out there traveling: Generation X, which came between the Boomers and Millennials, and the mature travelers of the Silent Generation, which came before the Boomers.

By becoming aware of the travel styles of all four generations, not just the two that get all the attention, online travel agents can tailor their marketing and increase their market scope to include all generations.

Silent Generation

The Silent Generation now ranges in age from 72 to 90, so their health factors significantly into their travel plans. Some travel insurance companies refuse to issue coverage to these travelers without an exam; they may find that tour operators, particularly on active or walking tours, decline to let them participate. But travel is still important and, according to Virtuoso, they spend more on travel than any other generation. Importantly, they also demonstrate loyalty to their travel agents and once you win their business, they're likely to come back to arrange additional travels as well.

Don't think their age means they aren't comfortable with technology; a few years ago, eMarketer found that 85 percent of travelers aged 70 and over used websites to research their trips, and more than 79 percent went ahead and booked online, also.

Baby Boomers

The Baby Boomers started retiring a few years ago and so now have the time and money for travel. Much of their travel spans generations; they enjoy traveling with their children and grandchildren, often paying for family and friends to travel as well. For 82 percent of Boomers, pleasure travel is a priority, with "bucket list" destinations a key focus, according to Sabre.

The Boomers are comfortable using technology to make their travel arrangements; Virtuoso found 72 percent use online travel agents to investigate and 84 percent book online. Most of their trips are pleasure travel and easy booking with an emphasis on the fun of the trip is likely to get their attention. Add-ons like cultural experiences and regional dining tours will enhance their trips.

Generation X

Generation X travel is now often focused on the family with an emphasis on value. Caught between work and family obligations, they don't have the time for extended getaways to faraway locales, so they often opt for nearby, family-friendly resorts. Their vacation schedules are often tied to their kids' school break schedules. Although they've got the money for travel, they're also raising their kids, saving for retirement and contributing to their parents' care, so they look for value in their travel experiences.

According to Virtuoso, Gen Xers have bigger travel spending than the generations before and after them and more than 70 percent use online travel agencies for information and purchasing. Focus on family, comfort and value to gain their business.

Millennials

Because they're often just starting their jobs or just starting a family, Millennials don't always have significant time and money for travel. Partly as a result, they're more open and excited about business travel than the older generations.

Their travel interests don't involve checking off big-name attractions, but novel experiences in up-and-coming neighborhoods and in smaller secondary cities. They're also draw to locations where they see celebrities on social media. Because of their relative youth, they like locations where they can get outdoors and be active. According to a Marriott survey, more than a quarter of Millennials consider nightlife important when choosing a travel destination; 32 percent would like to take a volunteer trip.

Virtuosos' statistics show 90 percent of Millennials booking online; AARP adds that most of those bookings are from their smartphones. Millennials rely on online reviews to an enormous extent; once they've explored the reviews and their booking options, they want to make the arrangements themselves via travel apps. When they're happy with the experience, they're likely to mention it on their social media and refer their friends.

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