I read with great interest the recent Amadeus report, Shaping the future of travel in Asia Pacific – in particular, the importance of the Asian century and emergence of the independent and Gen S (senior) traveller – although it may prove even more useful to roll this into one category; the independent mature traveller.
The trends noted by Amadeus, including demographic aging, when combined with the explosion of everyday digital options – in particular mobile – emphasises the importance of a new time-rich, cash-rich market segment. These travellers are indeed making their own travel arrangements – and travel providers need to cater to their needs, sooner rather than later.
The Amadeus findings are supported by YOURLifeChoices Lifestyle survey, which yielded 5268 responses to 40 questions, revealing key travel trends for older Australian travellers. The survey was sent to our 75,000 members, of whom 86% are aged 50 – 75, 60% retired, and 65% female.
In Australia, the term ‘senior’ tends to apply to those aged over 60, as this is when they may apply for a senior’s card if they are no longer working full-time. Those under 60 and/or still working tend not to self-describe as ‘senior’. As with all large markets or cohorts there are sub-segments, so it is perhaps more helpful to recognise the sub-segments as boomer (50 – 67), senior (60+), or linked to life-stage such as retiree, pre-retiree or perhaps even empty-nester. Whichever way we describe, the term ‘mature’ traveller tends to be least likely to offend.
What does our research reveal about mature travellers? And what matters most to them?
According to the authoritative Roy Morgan research, Australians aged over 55 form 24% of the population, but hold 56% of the net wealth. This statistic, alone, should have the undivided attention of the domestic travel industry. But no, this segment is largely ignored by both advertisers and marketers who almost seem to go out of their way to insult mature travellers with corny images of clichéd ‘frail olds’ or doddery old fools in safari suits and silly hats.
The most recent annual departure statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveal that in 2012 the 50 – 54 year age group was the largest segment heading overseas for short-term departures, some 26% of all short-term departures.
YOURLifeChoices research reveals a web savvy demographic, which starts travel planning online (a whopping 81%), and books online exclusively (28%) or by combining online bookings with a travel agent (51%).
Our respondents are confirming shorter lead times, with 74% planning overseas travel just months ahead, and 7 % just weeks ahead. This more impulsive traveller is now treating an ‘Asia Pacific’ weekend as they once considered choosing an interstate weekend – so it’s Auckland rather than Sydney, or Hong Kong rather than Tasmania for the Easter break.
Editor’s Note: Kaye Fallick is publisher of YOURLifeChoices website, e-news and magazine. Have a look at part 2 of this blog post where Kaye discusses the top 10 travel destinations for seniors and the Dos and Don’ts of catering to their needs.