The two generations having the greatest impact on U.S. economy are the Baby Boomers and the Echo Boomers, children of Boomers, also known as Millennials. It has been suggested that Baby Boomers might be the “greatest economic force in the history of the United States,” and they are targeted to be the largest purchasing demographic in the hospitality industry over the next several decades.
Born between 1945 and 1964, 54% have already retired and 7,000 to 10,000 boomers turn 65 daily, and are entering the retirement phase of their lives. Known as the most traveled generation of our time, their desire for travel and entertainment should keep the hospitality industry busy for decades. Because they have more disposable income (more than $2.1 trillion in spending power), less child-raising responsibility, and a substantially reduced workload, the boomer demographic is one to watch. Though the travel industry is still catering to the Golden Agers, market trends indicate that Boomers could more than double the size of the industry in the next decade.
While many hotels are employing technology to attract Millennials, Baby Boomers are more likely to be hospitality’s most valuable customer. Boomers are surprisingly technically proficient and well educated so many of the design aesthetics and upgrades targeted to Millennials are not wasted on Boomers. Boomers are sophisticated travelers and appreciate well-designed facilities, and though they want to be connected, they don’t want to waste a lot of time figuring things out. In response, hotels are installing user-friendly, hassle-free in-room technology. Other Boomer related trends include age-sensitive design focused on accommodating, but not reminding the Boomers of their advancing age, i.e., grab bars that are more aesthetically appealing, outlets at easily accessible levels, and larger print on menus, directories, and in-room controls.
Boomers are also instrumental in driving what is known in the industry as “multi-generational” travel, embarking on trips that include the Boomers, their children, and their grandchildren. The business travel market will also continue to be impacted by Baby Boomers as a large percentage of them will not be retiring at 65. What has become apparent is that whether traveling for business or pleasure, Boomers want an unhindered, enriching experience, and they are willing to pay for it.
When booking travel, Boomers prefer to do so online, and they are attracted to travel packages. Because they enjoy traveling with their families, but don’t want to share a room with the kids, some hotels are offering family discounts and special rates on suites. Boomers see themselves as forever young, and won’t think of themselves as seniors until they’re well into their seventies, consequently these “adult teenagers” are looking for fun and entertainment. Boomers have high expectations when it comes to amenities; they want robust fitness centers, spa access, green concepts, and gourmet cuisine.
Baby Boomers are an economic force to be reckoned with, an untapped niche market, that will hold firm for the next twenty years. They are the most dynamic in travel industry demographics; they are healthy, active, fun-loving people, who want to enjoy life now and in retirement.