Budgeting for Boomers
According to U.S. News and World Report, baby boomers control approximately 70 percent of all disposable income in the country. Another AARP study revealed that compared with younger generations, boomers spend about 70 percent more on airfare and twice as much on recreation. This age group clearly has the money to spend; but that doesn’t mean group leaders should simply buy the most expensive tour and expect boomers to open their wallets.
“Price isn’t necessarily a boundary, but value is very well regarded,” said Benn of Butterfield and Robinson. “They don’t mind paying for something at a high level, but they want to make sure they are getting a lot of value with the cost. I think that is an important thing to keep in mind.”
Refrain from choosing extravagant tours with little local culture and few experiences boomers want. Boomers might pay more for distinctive accommodations or a traditional meal at a historic restaurant, but they will be less likely to splurge on luxury for its own sake.
Size Down and Slow Down
Rather than packing as many people into a motorcoach as possible, plan tours with fewer people for the more intimate experience that boomers prefer. Book trains, cruise ships or smaller buses to avoid the giant motorcoaches when you can.
Previous generations sought tours that saw as many highlights as possible. However, these tours don’t appeal to boomers, since they feel rushed from one place to another. Slow the pace of the tours for time to immerse participants in the culture of the current destination before moving on to the next.
A good rule of thumb is to spend no fewer than three nights at the same hotel. For a 10-day trip, pick out three different hotel bases that highlight different aspects of the country. Cruising remains the exception to the three-night rule, since ships moving from harbor to harbor don’t tire travelers as much.
To slow the pace even more, schedule free time to attract boomers that love autonomy.
“We build in free time where people can decide to either visit a local temple or shop at the market,” said Lassers of Abercrombie and Kent. “We call it a ‘design your day.’ The group leader can almost act like a concierge and help people go where they want to go. You can hand out maps or organize taxis. I think it’s important that the group leader gets a sense of the interests of the group to personalize the experience.”
End most touring days by 3 p.m. to offer travelers downtime before dinner. You can always plan optional excursions during this time, but your customers will appreciate the freedom to take a leisurely stroll before dinner if they so desire.