Explorers at Heart
To attract more boomers, instead of planning a sightseeing tour with brief stops at each attraction, choose tours that engage the local culture. Rearrange an itinerary that originally stopped at an art museum to include a calligraphy class that gives participants a hands-on experience to understand the art culture.
Boomers like to discover an area by using all their senses. Choose activities that allow travelers to touch, taste, smell, see and hear their way through a destination. Abercrombie and Kent, a tour operator based in Illinois, sees a lot of boomers sign up for their high-end, culturally connected tours. The company recently released even more immersive experiences for 2019, including meeting local farmers in Peru.
“It’s really thinking about luxury as the privilege of discovery,” said Pamela Lassers, director of media relations at Abercrombie and Kent. “People really want to learn about the local culture. In Alaska, we offer a fun visit where you see the kennels of an Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race winner. Depending on the time of year, you could go sledding with them or play with the puppies while you learn about the challenges of running the race. It’s something that takes you beyond the guidebook.”
For meals, avoid stuffy six-course meals and stick to dining experiences that reveal aspects of the surrounding area. Abercrombie and Kent offers an excursion in Croatia where participants harvest oysters with a local fisherman. Afterward, they enjoy an oyster lunch with him.
This demographic is also not afraid of trying more active excursions if they feel they can handle it. For example, Butterfield and Robinson designs bicycle tours for boomers with flatter biking routes and a fleet of electric bikes. Use this model to find physical experiences that challenge these travelers without overwhelming them. Specify how much activity is involved on a tour so boomers are confident they can keep up.
Your group is in the middle of Africa’s Serengeti. You might think the goal is to disconnect. However, the average boomer traveler will feel better knowing they can still check email and Facebook when they arrive back at the hotel that night.
Since boomers often still work full time or part time, access to Wi-Fi is important no matter how exotic the locale. But Wi-Fi is only one of the amenities important to this age group. They don’t want to rough it in tents and cheap hotels, but they do want to stay connected to the local culture.
Instead of the Four Seasons, choose boutique hotels with 100 or fewer rooms that reflect the character of the destination. You don’t want a property that feels like any generic American hotel. Boomers won’t pay more for mere opulence; they will pay more for hotels that feel authentic to the area and offer modern amenities they would otherwise miss.
Glamping works well for boomers who are looking for full immersion in nature but still want the comforts of electricity, showers and soft beds. Boomers also gravitate toward river cruises, since travelers can enjoy the amenities of an upscale vessel, the freedom of choosing their own activities and the benefits of staying in one cabin for the duration of the trip.