Think of them as tweeners. And that's the point: Travelers in their 50s, squeezed between Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, are breaking new ground in their global meanderings. Brands had better pay attention, although Fifties may be tricky to pigeon-hole.
Last month we released our annual travel industry trends forecast, Skift Megatrends 2017. You can read about each of the trends on Skift, or download a copy of our magazine here.
As with any demographic group, the Fifties are as much about a mindset as any age group. In this case, they’re the consumer group that has the technological savvy of the millennials, with the realities (read: employment, children in or out of the nest, and divorce) of the Baby Boomer generation.
These 52 or 59-year-olds seem much “younger” than their parents were at this stage because of medical advances, job hopping, and starting families later in life. A maturity with lots of youth thrown in, so to speak, and with that “youth” comes opportunities for brands that develop deep relationships that can last decades.
The Fifties don’t need a brand to introduce them to “experiences,” they just want the fastest way from the theme park to the local restaurant and on to their boutique/independent hotel or Airbnb. And, yes, they’ll most likely be taking an Uber XL rather than a Hertz rent-a-car (or even airport shuttle) to get there. They won’t be caught dead on a packaged tour, but in a pinch they respect the efficiencies of a fast, casual restaurant.
It’s often said that youth is wasted on the young, and modern travel illustrates that well. Because of employment patterns, Fifties have a level of choice that younger demos don’t, but they are also cautious with their spend because of family responsibilities and long-term goals.
Still, they are trip planning, not estate planning.
For Fifties, a short-term rental or a hostel isn’t a budget-first necessity, it’s an option. So yes to that Airbnb apartment booking in Madrid or Generator stay in Amsterdam. And yes, too, to a traditional hotel booking — it just makes sense so often. On the flip side, they’re part of the fastest-growing group of Airbnb hosts.
Smart brands also consider the spending power of Fifties. Nielsen estimates that in 2017 nearly 50 percent of the U.S. adult population will be age 50 and older and will control about 70 percent of the country’s disposable income. While some of that is in the hands of older Baby Boomers, the Fifties crowd has more to spend than millennials and they have a clear preference for value over luxury.
The promise and challenge for marketers is not just knowing what buttons to push but when. There’s the family trip and the business trip, but also single women or men traveling as a group, multi-generational escapes, adventure breaks, and romantic getaways. All of these are the same consumer, it’s just a matter of when marketers hit them with a message.
The Fifties provide a bridge between the Boomers and Gen-X and have keen insight from Gen-Y (their kids). As a group, Fifties allow brands to target changing consumer behaviors among a set demographic that contains habits of groups much younger and much older at the same time. If travel brands want to know what the future holds and what the present demands, Fifties are the place to start.
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Tags: megatrends 2017