Boomers Look to Word of Mouth for Vacation Tips: Report

By Sep 24, 2007

Baby boomers planning vacation travel rely heavily on word of mouth and show little brand loyalty, according to a new study from Focalyst, a joint venture of AARP Service and the Kantar Group research firm.

The survey of 30,000 consumers aged 42 and older found that among baby boomers (ages 42-60), recommendations from friends and family were cited 96% of the time as the most-used source of travel information. Among “matures” (age 60 and up), that figure was 88%. Fifty-seven percent of boomers and 44% of matures also cited those familiar sources as the ones they most valued for travel recommendations. Consumers with household incomes of $75,000 or more exert particular influence in affecting others’ vacation plans.

The Focalyst survey also found that only 10% of boomers return to the same travel brand names for their airline, lodging or vacation-cruise needs.

Baby boomers with children under the age of 18 in the household are one of the most lucrative segments of the older population, taking trips in the largest groups and spending more per trip than other segments.

“Companies often focus on boomer empty nesters, but the fact is that many boomers still have young children and are juggling the demands of work, home and potentially care giving responsibilities,” said Heather Stern, director of marketing and client development for Focalyst in a statement. “Unlike retirees, who often view their vacations as an exploration or opportunity to learn about a different culture, boomer families are simply seeking rest and relaxation and are willing to pay more to achieve it.”

Other findings from the travel survey, which Focalyst will issue on a quarterly basis, include:

* More than 81 million older adults plan to travel in the next year and will spend an aggregate $126 billion on their next trip.

* 72% of boomers say they like to return to familiar places when they vacation.

* More than one third of those in the boomer demographic say they look forward to vacation as a time simply to eat, drink and relax.

* More than half of boomers report plans to go on road trips rather than long-distance vacations.

* As a group, boomers steer clear of organized trips.

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