The over-50s account for more than three-quarters of the UK's wealth, while more than two-thirds of over 55s consider themselves financially comfortable. It's clear this is a target market that the travel industry should be making a serious effort to engage, but research suggests it might be coming up short.
Typically, it might have been assumed that over-50s travellers prefer to buy through traditional channels, but times have moved on.
A new study from Silver Travel Advisor reveals that just 30% of over-50s travellers now use a travel agent, with a mere 15% going to the agency in person and the same amount making contact on the phone or online.
More than half (56%) of older travellers prefer to deal direct with operators, including 40% who book online, while 16% prefer to speak on the phone.
Technophobes become tech-savvy
The study's findings are a reflection of the over-50s adopting digital technology faster than any other age group. Take social media, for example, where 70% of over-50s now have a Facebook profile.
The group no longer needs to approach a travel agent to do everything for them – they're more than capable of researching and booking the trip themselves using the technology available to them.
Travel brands should take note and adopt their approach accordingly, says Silver Travel Advisor managing director, Debbie Marshall.
"The opportunities are there – but travel companies need to think carefully about which segments they are targeting, which channels they use and how they communicate with them, as well as using age-appropriate creative content and tone of voice," she said.
Greater appetite for travel than ever before
The research – comprising analysis of 500 respondents over the age of 50, 80% of them over 60 – also shows how the group's appetite for travel increases in line with having more time and money.
More than two-thirds (70%) of over 50s are now taking three or more holidays a year, while 20% take five or more. Somewhat unsurprisingly, then, almost three-quarters (74%) of the group say they take more holidays now than before they were 50.
Also flying in the face of stereotype are the 40% who say they are more adventurous now compared to before they were 50.
Marshall explained: "Many over-50s have the wealth, the good health and the keen sense of adventure to make travel their spending priority in their later years."
The group are not scrimping either, with almost half of respondents (48%) revealing that they spend more than £3,000 per person a year on holidays, with 24% of this group spending over £5,000.
How to attract the over 50s
The study suggests that the worst thing travel brands can do is fall into the trap of making stereotypical assumptions about over-50s travellers. Two thirds of respondents (67%) think people should not even be considered old until they hit 80, and 18% said someone was not old until they reached their 10th decade.
The best thing brands can do is tailor their website to make buying travel as straightforward and fuss-free as possible. For the findings suggest that older travellers are quickly coming round to the idea of booking holidays online, but they want to feel like brands are tailoring offerings for them. Otherwise, they'll just go and book something directly.
Our tailor-made solutions can be adapted to make the most of this travel-hungry market. Our flexible multi-screen technology and reporting tools, allow you to gain key insights into your travel customers and provide them with a seamless online booking experience.