Last week I caused a wee bit of a ruckus when I suggested the hotel industry needs to stop fawning over millennials. (See that article here: http://ow.ly/YHbn9)
OK, maybe it was more like a jealous rage. But let’s not let my own personal paranoia and insecurities infect a good point. It’s so frustrating that those young whipper snappers getting all the attention, while mine, Gen X, is being treated like a one hit wonder. I’m thinking about you, Baha Men.
My point was other generations spend money too, and it seems silly trying to reinvent the entire lodging business around an age group still in flux. Fortunately, many agreed with this point and I didn’t get any real hate mail. But there’s still time! Keep sending in those comments to @travelingglenn on Twitter or [email protected]. However, I do think I touched a nerve here.
If you want to get excited about a generation, perhaps we all need to show a little more love to baby boomers. And it’s not because I want to suck up to mom so she’ll take me and my brood on vacation. That generation has the money, time, and are much more active than their parents (called the GI Generation, if you keep tabs on these sort of things).
But I suspect our wonderful business is suffering from a form of color blindness preventing us from seeing the color grey. It’s the result of a massive societal problem we have in the United States; ageism, the notion someone is no longer valuable after a certain age to society.
With few exceptions it seems that once you hit 50, society seems to turn its back on you. Fortunately, not in a Logan’s Run sort of way (look it up kids!), but in a way that pushes older folks aside to make way for illogical infatuation with youth.
It’s an obvious staple of popular culture for pretty much everyone but Helen Mirren, but is hidden in plain sight in other parts of our world. Older folks just seem to vanish, becoming part of an indecipherable din wanting to be heard.
But Baby Boomers are a financial force waiting to be tapped into, and they want to spend their money in your hotels. Plus, they want to take their kids and grandkids along for those experiences too. Maybe I will hit up mom for that trip to Mexico I have been dreaming about.
“Boomers make up a large segment of the traveling public, and so it’s particularly important for the travel industry to be aware of what Boomers are looking for in their vacations going into 2016,” said Stephanie Miles, VP, Products & Platforms, AARP, as part of a survey on Boomer travel trends.
Note to AARP: I love you, but please do not send me your membership forms anymore until I qualify five years from now. I am still fooling myself into thinking I am young. Not including the four times I need to hit the bathroom in the middle of the night, but still (see, even I commit ageism).
In leisure travel alone this massive group of 76 million plans to spend $120 billion on leisure travel this year alone! What are you doing to capture this share of their business?
I do think there are some hotel brands investing smart money into baby boomer business, but there are so many fixated on younger travelers, they’re missing out on easy money. That’s a shame as these folks have savings, and want to spend it while they still can on experiences. They haven’t fallen and can’t get up yet. That’s a misconception. In fact, 26% of Boomers say they’ll take domestic multi-generational trips (with three or more generations traveling together) in 2016.
Here’s another telling a factoid from that AARP survey conducted this past fall gets to the crux of this: Cost is a not a deal breaker for their travel plans. “More than half of Millennials and Gen Xers say cost is a barrier to leisure travel, but only 45% of Boomers agree,” the survey points out.
I do understand why the industry is getting suckered into loving those Millennials, but in the end we must all realize there are millions and millions more from other generations and demographics that will stay with you if you appeal to them. If you don’t believe me, just ask Helen Mirren.
Connect with me at [email protected] or @TravelingGlenn on Twitter.