Boomer trends for the tourism marketer in 2006
The baby boomer generation is still on track to change the consumer landscape next year, this time with trends emerging in the health, fitness, travel and housing sectors, according to author and consultant Brent Green, who offers some more boomer trends for 2006.
Travel and tourism is already a US$1.3 trillion industry in the USA, generating some US$100 billion in tax revenue for local, state, and federal governments. With Boomers entering a life stage typified by extensive travel and immersive learning, they are bringing new opportunities to an industry already responsible for more than 7 million domestic jobs - and the nation's number one service export.
Throughout their lives, Boomers have contributed to the growth of many new forms of travel entertainment, from European excursions to backcountry trekking. As the generation prioritises more time for travel and learning ('edutainment'), tourism industries will continue to realise substantial growth and evolution. For example, two up-and-coming trends being fuelled by Boomers include heritage and cultural tourism.
Heritage Tourism Heritage Tourism is tied to a geographic location and connected to neighbouring history, customs, historical figures, traditions and mythic stories. This form of travel presents underdeveloped opportunities for smaller communities and off-the-beaten path destinations. In concert with the period of life when history takes on added significance, Boomers will progressively seek out locales that showcase fascinating, transforming voyages into the past.
Locales that amplify Boomers' own nostalgic coming-of-age experiences are likely to become top-sellers. For example, London tourists can enjoy one of several all-day walking tours of The Beatles' most famous landmarks, including Abby Road Studios and The Palladium theatre, birthplace of "Beatlemania".
Cultural Tourism Cultural Tourism involves immersive experiences with less emphasis on a specific locale. For example, Boomers are rushing into regional art museums to see rock icon photographs by Linda McCartney (the late wife of Paul). Ronnie Wood, guitarist for The Rolling Stones, is luring hip crowds into hip galleries to view his striking sketches of the band that made him famous. For the culture-thirsty Boomer traveller, a trip to Milwaukee has to include a tour of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle factory. In Cleveland, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has become a Woodstock generation "must visit" destination as well.
Using the trend Some companies have already spotted the trend and acted upon it. For example, National Geographic has responded by developing a travel product called Expeditions, in line with changing Boomer tastes. Expeditions include out-of-the-ordinary journeys, education from pre-eminent tour guides, and access to off-the-beaten path experiences (such as a private tour of the Sistine Chapel after hours). The whole emphasis is on learning, cultural immersion, and peak experiences.
Hotels and resorts Finally, domestic hotels and resorts are expected to continue to create new travel experiences that appeal to Boomers, usually offering gourmet cooking, wellness education, skill improvement in leisure sports, and room or event packages tied to neighbouring festivals and special attractions.
In his book, 'Marketing to Leading-Edge Baby Boomers: Perceptions, Principles, Practices, Predictions', Green offers more detailed insights about how travel and tourism businesses could capitalise on the Boomer generation and its lust for educational and experiential travel.