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Published on Thursday, October 15, 2015

Over 50s being overlooked by travel marketeers

Travel agencies are missing a trick by failing to target marketing and advertising campaigns at the growing and highly lucrative over 50s market.

Debbie Marshall, managing director at review website Silver Travel Advisor, told delegates at ABTA 2015 that only 5% of marketing budgets are dedicated specifically to the over 50s, despite the massive size of the market.

She said the average age of a PR and advertising executive is 35 and, as a result, many lack the understanding of what the more mature traveller is looking for, or have enough interest in this sector.

Instead, she believes travel marketing executives are too busy focusing on younger travellers, who spend less and have less time to travel.

Nathan Philpot, sales and marketing director for Fred Olsen Cruise Line, said it's less about the age and more about talking to your audience.

"It don't think you need to be old to understand the market, but you do need to be engaged with your audience," he said.

"Yes, as a marketing person, it's often easy to want to do the 'cooler' stuff, with social media and digital, but the over 50s is where the money is."

A recent survey showed three out of four travel companies have no plans to offer products and services specifically targeting the over 65s.

A separate survey of over 50s found 38% believe marketing and advertising for holidays is often irrelevant and 53% complained they are being patronized.

Many feel that, in general, marketing aimed at their age group was 'beige and boring'.

Highlighting some of the UK stats relating to the market, Marshall said:

- over 50s hold over 80% of the nation's wealth
- they spend three times more on discretionary purchase than people in their 30s
- by 2020 there will be more people over 50 than under 50
- the over 85s are the fastest growing age group
- one in the babies born today will live to 100
- over 50s are the fastest adopters of technology and social media.

Breaking down how the overs 50s travel, she said:

77% travel with a partner
13% are solo
35% would considering traveling alone but do not
10% go with family or wider group.

And highlighting how they book, she said:

62% use the internet
50% look for special offers
60% book online
23% book by phone
13% visit an agent.

Marshall believes travel companies need to better understand the needs and desires of the older traveller.

"They want memories and experiences, whether it's yoga, art, river cruises, or even romance. Yes, some 1.3 million people in their over 50s are looking for a new partner," she said.

"They are also loyal, not just to the same brand but they often like to have the same room and the same cabin. Above all, they want consistency."


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