The leisure travel industry is about to boom thanks to the Baby Boomers coming of age and having more free time and the desire to travel, according to Lauraday Kelley, CTC, MCC, vice president Education & Training for Vacation.com. “With more free time on their hands and the desire to participate in such activities that may have been previously unattainable, the travel industry will see a remarkable growth in the leisure segment over the next 18 years as more and more Boomers have the freedom and time to spend money more freely,” Kelley said.
Kelley made her remarks at this year’s Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (SATH) 11th World Congress held at the Miami Airport Hilton Jan.10-13.
The impact of Baby Boomers on society was seen in the early 1990’s when the economy boomed due to the tremendous earning and spending capabilities of the generation, and this trend will continue to be a driving force affecting our future economy. “In 2006 the baby boomers were the economy,” stated Kelley. “We represented the vast majority of the work force. There are 76 million of us, and we are the economy,” she added. With many previously conserving their money for retirement or children’s college funds, the years ahead will give them the time to use their money to enjoy things in life they were previously unable to do.
The generation of Baby Boomers has been defined by sociologists as those born between the years of 1946 and 1964 putting this generation between 42 and 60 years old. Currently representing 28% of the U.S population they presently encompass the political, cultural, industrial and academic leadership class in the United States. The U.S census bureau estimated that approximately 2.9 million of this generation turned 60 in the year 2006, a total of 7,918 each day.
Drawing from recent research by ASTA, the Travel Industry Association and Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell (YPB&R), Lauraday Kelley released Vacation.com’s Top Ten Trends for 2007 including:
Family vacations will continue to grow at a faster rate than all other forms of leisure travel as parents and grandparents look at travel as a way to reunite families in a high-stress world dominated by demanding work responsibilities.
With baby boomers becoming more anxious to be pampered and entertained in a controlled environment, and cruise lines portraying cruises as destinations not just ships, there will be a tremendous increase in cruise vacations.
Interest in spa vacations will continue to grow as those in the work force look for ways to manage the mounting stress in their lives, and exhibit a growing desire to detox the body and mind.
All inclusive pricing (one price for a bundle of basic services) will grow in popularity beyond cruise lines and all inclusive resorts as more consumers on fixed incomes want greater control over their travel expenses.
The new lifestyle hotel brands such as NYLO and ALOFT will continue to gain both exposure and popularity among the next generation of travelers, as well as the baby boomers who wish to look, act, and feel like the millennium generation.
There will be a tremendous increase in adventure travel with distinctions between those who really want to experience life on the edge and those older Boomers who want to think they are experiencing the edge, but with moderation and comfort.
Religious travel will continue to be a growing trend as a large number of consumers are taking pilgrimages to religious destinations.
The Internet will continue to be an online travel research and planning tool, whereas Internet usage to book reservations will continue to grow at a significantly lower rate than that of the past three years.
Comparison shopping will become even more commonplace as consumers discover and use the latest search engine options to eliminate the maze of misinformation that clutters many Websites.
Finally, the travel agent will not become an endangered species. Because of their travel experience and expertise and their personal insight into the best-value deals, whether it is package tours, cruises, hotels, bed and breakfast accommodations, domestic and foreign airlines, special client needs and much more, the retail agent will still be highly sought after.