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Tour operators develop new trips for boomers

Netherlands, courtesy Globus Family of Brands

Baby boomers are no passive travelers.

When it comes to planning a trip, boomers demand a measure of control of their tour itineraries. Tell them they can have options A, B and C, and they’ll want options D and E — and something else that’s not on the agenda.

Ranging in age from their late 40s to their mid-60s, boomers make it clear to travel marketers: “I want it my way.”

“Boomers are such a large chunk of the population. They’re the future of travel,” explained Mike Schields, a managing director at Globus. “They’ll dictate the direction of escorted and leisure travel. It’s challenged us to remake our travel portfolio.”

Schields said the boomer mindset is one of doing rather than just seeing. Instead of pins on a map, it is experiences in unique places.

“Twenty years ago, seniors took motorcoaches and toured Rome. Boomers want dinner with the owner of a private villa in Tuscany. So we immerse people in unique experiences,” said Schields.

Globus developed the Favorites tour series to introduce boomers and others to their destinations’ hidden gems with behind-the-scenes activities.

“Boomers want Chile, Argentina, Peru and Brazil for some soft-adventure stuff,” Schields said. “Boomers aren’t afraid to spend extra to do these things. They’re big on bucket lists.”

Tony Etienne, an executive with Collette Vacations agreed. “In the last few years, there have been upticks in certain destinations, both in interest and in bookings,” he said.

Etienne mentioned Ireland as an example. Travelers aged 45 to 80 often want to go there. Before, most got a 10- to 12-day escorted package with sightseeing in the usual spots. Now they want to learn about the culture and people, get off the beaten path, take a farm visit, eat a meal with a local family or see a whiskey distillery.

The same is true for Italy. Boomers go for religious purposes or to eat their way across the country.