Baby boomer travel is still a “thing.”
Yes, despite all that you’ve been hearing lately about how millennials are the new force in the travel business the baby boomer generation is still very much with us.
The baby boomer demographic is usually defined as those born between 1946 and 1964; in other words a baby boomer is between 50 and 69 today, give or take a few years.
Among the things that make the baby boomer generation attractive to travel agents is the fact that, having logged a good number of years in the work force, many of them are affluent. Moreover, a segment of the baby boomer crowd is retired or semi-retired and scratching that old travel itch.
Can a travel agent specialize in the baby boomer cohort? Sure. And I’m a big believer in specialization. But there are a lot of tastes and preferences under the broad baby boomer umbrella, so it makes sense to specialize in one more more types of travel that appeal especially to baby boomers.
Of course, another mode of specialization I advocate is marketing travel with the most payback for you, the travel agent.
With that in mind, here is my take on five baby boomer travel niches that are especially lucrative.
Baby boomer travel niche #1: Destination weddings
You might think millennials are the ones to target for this product and you’d be right. But baby boomers get married, too. Many are second (or third) marriages.
Baby boomers are also open to something a bit different from the traditional church wedding, especially if they’ve already had one.
Don’t overlook (or underestimate) the gay and lesbian market for baby boomer weddings. After all, there is a lot of pent up demand.
Baby boomer travel niche #2: Faith-based travel
Many baby boomers are seeking a closer connection with their faith. Or discovering a new one. That may be one reason why, by some estimates, faith-based travel adds $100 million to the global economy each year.
One thing that makes religious travel for the baby boom generation so attractive is that it is invariably a group experience rather than individual FITs. It also covers virtually every faith, offering destinations in the U.S. as well as overseas. Moreover, many tour operators offer faith-based tours, so you will have plenty of support.
Baby boomer travel niche #3: Culinary cruises
There has been an explosion of cooking-related programs on America’s cruise lines. Whether your baby boomer clients want to hone their cooking skills or just indulge in superb cuisine with wine pairing chosen by experts, there’s a cruise line to oblige.
Once again, this niche is attractive because it is so easy to identify groups in your market that will find this type of group cruise pretty irresistible. Cooking clubs are the obvious example — you could pitch a group cruise as a fund raiser — but fraternal groups, alumni associations, and many others can be easily targeted.
Baby boomer travel niche #4: Multi-Gen Travel
Why send one couple on a trip when you can send two, or three, or four. Affluent baby boomer grandparents who are yearning to spend more time with their grandkids are very open to the idea of opening their wallets and taking their kids and their kids’ kids on a cruise, or Disney World, or . . . well, you’re the travel agent, help them out.
By the way, according to AARP, 33% of baby boomers are planning a multigenerational vacation in 2015.
Helping to organize a family reunion is another way in which multigenerational travel can pay off for the nimble travel agent.
Baby boomer travel niche #5: Medical Tourism
When Americans can get first-world quality surgery in third-world countries and save 60% to 90% on elective procedures or other surgery not covered by their insurance, is it any wonder more and more folks are packing their bags?
The trade paper Patients Beyond Borders believes the medical tourism market in the U.S. alone is worth between $38 and $55 billion a year. That’s billion with a “B.” Not all of that money goes to travel, of course, but still.
In other words, there’s money to be made serving this lucrative niche and since aging bodies have an annoying way of breaking down, baby boomers are a logical target market.
On the downside, this specialty requires more organization and expertise than most. There’s a fair amount of hand holding and screening involved in pre-trip planning, so most travel agents in this area team with medical professionals to provide a soup-to-nuts service.