2043 The End of the Baby Boomer Travel Dollar


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Don't dismiss the Baby Boomer as a valid source or travel business just yet. They have another 30 years of travel left in them... and they use e-mail!

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2043 The End of the Baby Boomer Travel Dollar

  2. 2. ©2013 Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co., All Rights Reserved 1 Hi, I’m Steve Crowhurst, founder of SMP Training Co., and Selling Travel and more recently, IC Travel Agent. The travel trade has relied heavily on the Baby Boomer dollar for many years now and quite often I hear rumblings about the demise of the Baby Boomer traveller along with the challenges of using social media to attract the next generation of travellers. The crossover from Baby Boomer clients to Generation X and Y clients is a cause for concern for many travel agents who themselves are factored into the Baby Boomer generation. The challenge as they see it is that, like themselves, their clients are ageing and dying off. Literally, in many cases and eventually. I decided to research as and when the demise of the Baby Boomer travel dollar would actually come about and to discover when the agency focus should switch to engaging Generation X and Y as the agency’s main source of travel dollars. The outcome is a revelation. No Baby Boomer travel agency owner / manager need worry too much. For as long as they are in business, they will have a client base consisting of Baby Boomer travellers. Until the year 2043 that is. That’s when the world of the Baby Boomer as a travelling entity fades to black. They will carry their bookings to the grave and will no longer represent 80% of your sales. Timing is everything. Before the demise of your Baby Boomer clients, you’ll need to identify, in a corporate sense, with all things Generation X & Y and especially related to marketing, attraction, engagement and closing the sale. It’s a one way street from here on. Learn to use the marketing tools that will attract Next Gen Travellers And don’t wait ‘til 2043 to start marketing to either of the Next Generations. Thanks Boomers! It’s been grand! Next Gen right here!
  3. 3. ©2013 Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co., All Rights Reserved 2 The Data Exploring the various generations and when they were born is the premise for this report. I explored the current Life Expectancy Patterns for North Americans and as you would expect Life Expectancy around the world differs depending on where someone is born and raised and the ‘world’ in which they currently live in and or survive in, day-to-day. Life Expectancy has been hovering around 77 years of age for some time now. Recently it has been increased to 80. A caution here: the dates and ages change according to which book, report or survey you read and which guru is the author. You may feel inclined to change the dates in this report by a year or so either way depending upon your own research. The choice is all yours. I’ve chosen the age of 80. Research in Life Expectancy continues to show women outliving men by 8 to 10 years. Also, generally a person closing in on 80 years of age is usually more concerned with ill health and mobility for the last 3 to 5 years of their life and therefore not always a viable source of travel dollars. Yes you will know many people, clients included, who have and are living way beyond the age of 80. Be that as it may – 80 is the overall time / age for when your Baby Boomer client base is going to fade away from your sales column and CRM system. As female Baby Boomers do live longer than their male counterparts, there is obviously a continuous source of business in the mature/senior women-only niche – elderly women are quite possibly adventurous women too. A whole new niche to be explored especially in the group department. At this moment in time all travel agents have at least another 15 to 30 years-worth of travel business left in their existing and prospective Baby Boomer clients. They are not dead and gone just yet. In fact they still rule the waves in terms of cruising and overall travel bookings. They still buy and they still travel and they still rock! The challenge: Most travel agencies do not have the required primary customer data on file that would allow them to assess their future Baby Boomer bookings. One of those data columns would be titled age or date of birth. A quick calculation of client birth dates inserted into an Excel worksheet and an agency can plot their own chart to decipher when they must bite the bullet as their Baby Boomer business declines and start to switch at least some marketing focus to attracting more and more Generation X and Y clients. To introduce Cathedral Thinking here, it means to plan ahead and start building now. The reason Baby Boomer business is preferred is simple: they are, for the most part: well off, houses are paid off, children have left home, they are downsizing and releasing money into their travel fund and there is still a lot more of the world they have not yet seen and have a desire to see. They also understand travel insurance and why they need it. On the other hand, Generation Xers are well into their jobs, careers and marriages, relationships, children and new cars, mortgages and all those life events that the Baby Boomer generation have experienced and survived. With any generation it is always about living to a ripe old age, although many young people do
  4. 4. ©2013 Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co., All Rights Reserved 3 not understand this until they hit mid-life. The core element about healthy 70 – 80 year olds is that they have lived that long. They made it. Whereas so many younger people, Generation Xers, have not yet made it to age 70. Many will not. However, working in ‘the now’ - Generation X is a client base that needs to be courted. Ranging in age from 30 to 48 they are knee deep in their own lives and travel will, as we know, represent a very important component of a life well lived. Their desire to travel is a legacy from their Baby Boomer parents. They are generally earning a decent income and all things considered are an agency’s next target market. Attracting whilst retaining is a delicate balance. You must still shower your Baby Boomer clients with all the affection you can muster and at the same time be able to ‘speak the language’ of the next generation. If you are in touch with your client base on a regular basis and you drive the data you need for marketing decisions then you will notice you already have a high percentage of Gen X clients. By arranging a client focus group and engaging your Gen X travellers in a conversation about needs, wants, communication channels etc., you will be able to better understand how your Gen X clients want you to interact with them. You will learn the best methods and channels to reach to them with the type of travel they desire and how they want their news delivered, too. To better understand the Gen Y traveller – follow the same model as above. Meet face to face. Ask questions. Gather the data and plan from there. The Crossover Chart ©2013 Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co. All Rights Reserved. This chart records the ages of your clients in 2013, when they reach 80 and in the far right column, the balance of ‘travel years’ they can offer your agency. The short term looks very positive in that you can service three generations of travellers: BBs, Gen X and Gen Y. In 2013 the eldest group of Baby Boomers are aged 67 – they reach the age of 80 in 2026 and from there on, until 2043 when the youngest of the
  5. 5. ©2013 Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co., All Rights Reserved 4 Baby Boomers aged 49 in 2013, will turn 80 themselves. On the chart I have shown the year 2043 as when ‘all’ Baby Boomer clients might have faded from your sales chart. There will be exceptions of course, however the topic and report is based on the general departure and decline of a specific business segment. As a young travel agent or agency owner / manager you can clearly see your options are wide open and should include as many Baby Boomer travellers as possible – their dollar will support your business as you continually attract your own age group and next generation to do business with you. Depending on your own age in 2013 and how young you are, chances are in time to come, you will also be selling to Generation Z and they will have different needs and wants and we can only imagine the forms of communication and the marketing tools available when you reach that time. You will also be selling off- planet vacations! Now that is an exhilarating prospect. Space travel packages. That alone is a reason to fulfill a passion and join the travel industry. Review If your entire client base is made up of Baby Boomers at the senior end then you have 15 years or less of their travel business left to transact. Depending on your own age, you may decide this level of business is okay. You will age with your aging clients and leave the business just about the same time as your main source of business declines for good. On the other hand if you are around 50 years of age yourself, you will know that you must start courting and acquiring a younger client base to maintain your sales as your Baby Boomer clients decline and fade away. Starting in the travel business today at say age 35 means you are coming in at a time when you can still service the declining Baby Boomers and through your own same-age connections attract your own age bracket to do business with you. Starting today at age 20 offers an aspiring, social media savvy, travel entrepreneur a burgeoning 60 year career! The type of marketing tools and channels used will evolve to accommodate the likes, needs and wants of the younger travelling client base. We know today that the hotel industry is ahead of their game with always-on wifi, larger TVs, in-room tablets and foyers turned into meeting places. What dies with each generation of client is their generic shopping habits, their typical responses to your advertising and marketing and what takes over, as the next generation ages into being potential clients for your agency, is how they shop, purchase and respond to the latest forms of advertising and marketing of travel. Their needs would be different from the needs of Baby Boomers – although there might be little difference between the younger Baby Boomers and the eldest of Generation X, who at minimum would be separated by one year! The main differences are found at either ends of the scale – that would be the eldest of the Baby Boomers and the youngest of Generation X & Y.  The youngest of Generation X will turn 65 in 2048  and the eldest of Generation X will turn 65 in 2030.  The youngest of Generation Y will turn 65 in 2067  and the eldest of Generation Y will turn 65 in 2049. 1927-1945 - Silent Generation or Traditionalists 1946-1964 - Baby Boomers 1965-1983 - Gen X or the Busters 1984- 2002 - Gen Y or the Millennials 2003- Current Gen Z or the Digital Generation
  6. 6. ©2013 Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co., All Rights Reserved 5 Finally… I have included a few charts I found interesting to study. They each offer a number of ideas as to how you might want to attract your Next Generation of Travellers be they Gen X, Y or Z. We do know that video is taking over when it comes to promoting travel across all generations. The younger generations are certainly quick to watch a video more than read a wall of text. The majority of people who intend to travel also seek out destination videos to watch online. Clearly video should be factored into your marketing plan from here on, if it has not yet made it into your overall marketing model now is the time. Email reigns supreme and it can only be said that email will continue to be the number one method of communication for years to come. It will naturally morph into something similar and available through new channels of communication and the yet to be released gadgets and apps. Texting is reserved for a certain segment of each generation. Hard copy brochures are preferred by Seniors and Baby Boomers and it should be noted that a hardcopy glossy brochure or magazine still has cache. These become ‘leave behinds’ and ‘pass arounds’ – and in their own way, they go viral. Brochures and magazines laze around on the coffee table for up to 3 months and in doing so they continue to tap the client’s travel gene and they are read by friends and relatives who visit. Facebook is overcrowded. You and 1.? Billion are playing there. Your job regarding Facebook is to move the marker from social play to social pay. Your preferred suppliers are way ahead of the game here – so learn from them. They are not afraid to ask for business, to make a booking, to offer and promote a deal to boost a sales response. A recent survey by SMP although the response was small, indicates that travel photographs and specifically the images taken by the travel agent are one of the best social media promotional tools and cause a large response. This supports the fact that travel is visual. Images over text are preferred and now video over images is rising on the preference scale. The fact that images and videos can be seen, played and shared on hand-held devices suggests this is the way to go, now and for the future. Every travel agent on the road – vacation or fam – should be carrying a DSLR camera or use the apps in their smartphone to shoot and zip-zap the best images to their agency Facebook page and their videos to the agency YouTube channel. This instant – ‘wish you were here’ communication changes to ‘here’s where you should be’ to ‘hey, this is fantastic and I can book you here, right now!’ The latest DSLR cameras by Nikon, Canon, Sony etc., all have wifi built in, HD 1080 video and so it’s a quick click to post online. Music rates high in the lives of Gen X & Y. Both generations listen to their own playlists on iTunes and just like Baby Boomers they also listen to radio.
  7. 7. ©2013 Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co., All Rights Reserved 6 When it comes to blending social media marketing into your overall marketing plan you have a wide and varied choice. The best model is to select one core social network / channel and work it hard. Move your text blog to include images or go with the video version called a Vlog. Instagram, Pinterest and many more networks to come will tempt you to stretch even further. As always, before spending time and effort on all things social media, do your due diligence and gather primary data first. This means ask your clients which social media they use, how they would like to receive your information and notifications, deals, newsletters etc. Then your marketing takes on the direct approach versus being scattered. Beware of too much Generation Separation The trouble with marketing is that everyone knows how to do it. It’s true. Everyone has the answer. Of course everyone’s opinion is also correct. For them. Perhaps not for the project. But as they see the world – their opinion is spot on. If you listen to everyone’s opinion without questioning it, you could be in for a rude awakening if you applied their marketing model. There is way too much discussion about the differences between what might cause a Baby Boomer to travel and what might cause Generation X and Y to travel. There are indeed differences in needs and wants, and levels of service and that’s based on how each person regardless of generation is living in the present day / current world. When it comes to reasons for travelling however – nothing has changed since man decided to leave Africa and head out. I believe the words used, although somewhat guttural where, “Hey, Joe… what’s that over there?” For those of us who are truly travellers and adventurers, not so much your typical tourist looking for a cruise’n’scoff vacation, then we are driven by personal interaction, achieving long held goals to see the world from the street level versus a 46 seater coach or 200 mph train. Then there are the deep seated personal journeys we, as adventures, all have. Some of us are driven by where one’s ancestors come from, others are just born with the desire to explore a country other than their own. By the age of 19 I had accomplished three personal journeys: to visit Japan, to circumnavigate the world, and to join and practise Judo at the Kodokan in Tokyo. I meet young travellers today who have the same passions as I did and I’m looking at a present day image of my younger self. The difference if any was that I wrote and mailed a postcard and today my avatar is texting or chatting globally on FaceTime. The reasons for travel and travelling have been constant for thousands of years. There is nothing new here and it’s not beholden to any one generation. Some people are not prone to leave home. They like where they live. They are settled. No itchy feet to scratch. Content. Now that’s a different path to Nirvana – but the journey is still to find contentment. So once again, be careful as to how much Generation Separation you allow into the reasons why “we” as in mankind, decide to leave home. Put your energies into understanding how best to communicate with each generation using present day technologies using timeless words and phrases uttered over the many years mankind has looked at that far horizon. Remember this too: social media does not close the sale – you do. At the end of the day your sales will happen if you utter these words: We’ve covered off everything… any questions… which credit card will you be using? 2043 – keep that year in mind and work your marketing magic now to attract Next Gens.
  8. 8. ©2013 Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co., All Rights Reserved 7 Charts & Links This is a mesmerizing animation created by Bill McBride of Calculated Risk. It shows the distribution of the U.S. population by age over time, starting at 1900 and ending with Census Bureau forecasts between now and 2060. Click on the link below the chart to view it. http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/08/us-population-distribution-by-age- 1900.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CalculatedRisk+%28Calculated+Risk%29 Population of United States as of July 1, 2013: 316,703,000, Baby Boomers represent 28%: 76 million Population of Canada as of April 2013: 35,141,542 Baby Boomers represent 28%: 9.8 million* *It is difficult to find current data on Canada’s Baby Boomer population beyond 2011 Statistics Canada reports. The US data is current and so I have used their percentage (28%) to calculate the Canadian data. There is a data chart ** suggesting / projecting 15% of Canada’s population will be 65 in 2013: Roughly 5.3 million. The 9.8 million number (28%) would represent all Canadian Baby Boomers. ** http://www4.hrsdc.gc.ca/.3ndic.1t.4r@-eng.jsp?iid=33
  9. 9. ©2013 Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co., All Rights Reserved 8 Source: PhoCusWright’s Travel Agency Distribution Landscape 2006-2009 http://socialmediatoday.com/erinreadruddick/545888/infographic-social-media-email-and-top-online-activities-baby-boomers-and-bey http://www.vocus.com/blog/marketing-to-baby-boomers-online/
  10. 10. ©2013 Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co., All Rights Reserved 9 http://trends.e-strategyblog.com/2013/05/14/radio-listeners-social-media-adoption-by-generation/11127 http://trends.e-strategyblog.com/2013/09/11/most-desirable-future-tvvideo-services-options/14043
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  12. 12. ©2013 Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co., All Rights Reserved 11 Any and all comments appreciated. If you can add to the topic please do. Please email to: steve@smptraining.com About the author: Steve Crowhurst is a veteran of the travel industry with an innate desire to understand travel & tourism on a global basis. He has addressed audiences around the world and focuses on the use of creativity in generating new business. His term for what he speaks on is NBG – New Business Generation. Steve has written over 350 how to sell travel articles, publishes four e-Magazines and operates 3 websites. In 2010 he published a 400 page book titled: 273 No Fluff No Theory Marketing Ideas for Travel Agents. As a teenager Steve was hitchhiking around his native UK. In 1965 aged 16 he was working for Horizon Holidays of London, UK. At 18 he went to sea. By the age of 19 he had travelled around the world. His North American travel trade career started in 1970 when he immigrated to Canada. He has worked for major travel firms, owned and operated his own travel agencies, general managed a tourism college and consulted far and wide. A sought after speaker for his quick wit and repartee, cutting edge material and clean sense of humour. Steve is also an avid photographer and professional artist.
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