Baby Boomers Already Making Reservations

 Newly-Released AARP survey details travel trends by generation next year — 2016

Published in the Woonsocket Call on December 6, 2015

With the coming New Year, Baby Boomers have already begun to plan next year’s vacations.  A new AARP survey released last month gives a little insight into what America’s Boomers are us a glimpse of this generation’s travel trends (about 76 million strong who spend over $120 billion annually to travel), from destinations, to lodging and trip planning tools used.

“The vast majority of Baby Boomers are planning to drive, fly or set sail on leisure trips in 2016, with an average of 4 or 5 trips already in the works,” said Stephanie Miles, VP, Products & Platforms, AARP. “Boomers make up a large segment of the traveling public, and so it’s particularly important for the travel industry to be aware of what Boomers are looking for in their vacations going into 2016. This new survey finds that their travel desires often differ greatly from younger travelers.”

Key motivators for older travelers to take vacations are to spend time with family and friends (54%), to relax (42%) and to get away from the routines of everyday life (39%), note the researchers.  Millennials are more likely than any other generation to plan a trip to “go on an adventure.”

According to AARP’s Travel survey, released on November 24, a whopping 99 percent of Baby Boomers respondent say they will travel in 2016, about three-quarters have already chosen their destination(s).  About 12 percent who are planning on taking a domestic trip have already booked it in September.

Baby Boomers tend not to use online resources and mobile apps for planning and booking trips to the same degree as their younger generations will, note the survey findings.

For the traveling Boomer, the survey says that the most important items to bring on a trip are meds, comfortable shoes, a camera and sunglasses.  But these older travelers do not forget to bring a good book and emergency phone numbers, too

The survey findings indicate that while Boomers carefully watch their pocket books the cost of the trip is not the “deal breaker,” say the researchers.  More than half of Millennials and Gen Xers say that cost is a barrier to leisure travel, but only 45 percent of Boomers agree with these younger generations. Additionally, more than 6 in 10 Boomers say that higher airfares have had no impact on their personal travel plans.

International traveling “will be especially hot” next year for older travelers. About 32 percent of the survey respondents plan to be traveling overseas in 2016 with 29 percent scheduling these trip in the spring.  Europe attracts the interest followed by the Caribbean and Mexico (each 19 percent) for the older travelers who view these “bucket list” trips or “once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” say the researchers.

But America’s Boomers are also planning to take domestic trips next year on weekends and during the upcoming summer. The survey results indicate that nearly a third of the Boomers will take advantage of hot summer weather to make domestic trips, with 23 percent planning weekend getaways.  Twenty-six percent of the older respondents say they will take domestic multi-generational trips (with three or more generations traveling together) in 2016, but that’s down from 32 percent in 2015.

Boomers, heading off to warm U.S. destinations, will be packing their sun tan lotion, shorts and flip-flops when traveling in 2016.  Florida (19%) and Las Vegas (9%) will be the most popular domestic destinations for these older travelers.  Big cities like New York, Boston and Chicago also catch their attention. While hotels will be booked by a large majority, 30 percent plan to stay with family and friends.

When it comes to hotel lodging amenities, Boomers look forward to free Wi-Fi.  Forty-three percent say that when choosing a hotel, free Wi-Fi is key to their booking a room.  Eighty six percent of older travelers seeking rental homes also want this amenity. While roughly 4 in 10 Boomers stay at hotels or motels when they travel, Airbnb and VRBO are gaining in popularity: 1 in 10 Boomers are planning to use those services to rent a private residence instead of using a hotel on a 2016 trip.

The researchers say that during travel Boomers do not tend to linger in an airport terminal and are the least likely generation to take advantage of onsite airport amenities, expect for restaurants.

As to social media, the survey found that when on vacation about two-thirds of the respondents say they will not post to a social media site. About eight three percent will stay connected to “the outside world” by watching news on TV or online.

Finally, older workers continue to behave differently from those in other countries. Slightly half plan to use all of their vacation time next years. When on trips, one-third plan to bring work with them that ultimately will account for 10 percent of their vacation time.

AARP’s online survey was conducted September 17-28, 2015 among males and females 18 and older who had taken at least one trip 50 miles or more away from home, with a two-night stay, in the past two years.  The survey can be found at aarp.org/2016TravelTrends.

 

Bridging the Generations Through Multi-generational Trips

Published in Woonsocket Call on May 24, 2015

        For America’s 76 million baby boomers who spend $120 billion annually in leisure travel, three generation family vacations, including kids, parents, aunts/uncles and grandparents, are becoming a popular way to bond and create lasting memories, says a new AARP study about travel patterns of age 45 and over persons.

Researchers say that “a multi-generational trip is not typically inspired by a special event, but rather a desire to spend quality time together as a family.”  Although grandparents are more likely to pick up the tab for the trip, typically each family pays for their own expenses, they note.  Eighty one percent of travelers stayed at the same accommodation with their entire family.

The February 2015 research study on Multi-Generational Travel, offers insights into multi-generational vacations including why families are going, where they’re going, what they do on these family vacations, the challenges to plan them and why they create memories of a lifetime.

“Multi-generational family travel is becoming the new trend in family vacations. Our AARP 2015 Travel Trends found initial evidence that they would be popular in 2015 and now we know why,” said Stephanie Miles, Vice President, Member Value, AARP. “Our multi-generational travel research found 98 percent of travelers who took a multi-generational trip were highly satisfied and 85 percent are planning to take another one in the next 12 months.”

According to the study’s findings, 80 percent of the respondents traveled domestically in the U.S. and many chose active cities, beaches, amusement parks (Disney, too).  Also, California and Hawaii were two popular states to visit.  Domestic generational trips usually spans from 4 to 7 days.

Twenty percent traveled internationally with half heading to the Caribbean, Mexico or South America, says the findings.  Cruising is also a popular way to vacation for 25 percent of international travelers.  But, almost 40 percent chose nostalgic destinations to share a childhood memory.

The study finds that regardless of the location of the multi-generational trip, “dining out is the primary activity that engages the whole group.” While selecting and planning a trip may challenging, especially choosing the travel date, 98 percent of the multi-generational travelers were satisfied with their most recent trip.

Researchers found that traveling with parents, kids and grandparents can be positive in many ways.  Eighty three percent say that the trip brings the entire family together, while 69 percent stressed it helped to build special memories.  Fifty percent of the respondents noted that they were able to spend time with grandkids and 36 percent note the quality one-on-one time with family/spouse experienced during traveling.  Twenty nine percent say there were benefits of adult relatives spending time with younger generations.

The new research conducted by AARP Travel offers valuable insights into multi-generational travel, findings that Collette certainly can relate to, says Amelia Sugerman, Communications & Public Relations for Pawtucket-based Collette, a third-generation family-owned travel company.  “Over the past five years, Collette has witnessed an increase in family travel by about 20%,” she says, noting that this might be tied to age 65 and older adults who feel an urgent need to create ever lasting memories with their families.

“In a day and age where text messaging and face time has become the norm, it’s a unique chance to spend quality time together as one unit.  Although we do agree that bringing the family together and helping to build memories are top benefits of multi-generational travel, we have also identified many families who use the experience to celebrate a momentous occasion or event, says Sugerman, noting that the AARP study did not find special events triggering the planning of a Multi-Generation Vacation.

An older traveler, who took Collette’s National Parks tour, recently shared the details why this trip was so important to her family.  “My husband and I are getting older. Of course we think about the time we have left to spend with our grandchildren. This experience was the perfect way to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary.”

Like many of Collette’s older travelers, this customer was ambivalent about the destination. adds Sugerman, noting that the older couple did not want to travel too far and wanted everyone to enjoy themselves, but the experiences were far more important than the sights of the destination.”

Sugerman says the benefits of touring organized by companies like Collette, is that guests of all ages can have a great experience and no one has to worry about the details of planning.  This reflects findings in the AARP study that found 20 percent of families identify the task of coordinating the trip to be the toughest.

“Guided travel takes the guess work out of it [traveling] and leaves valuable time for guests to simply enjoy their time together, says Sugerman.

Don’t forget to document your family multigenerational trips, suggests Patricia S. Zacks, proprietor of the Camera Werks, on Hope Street in Providence.   “While it’s trendy to be taking pictures on your cell phone or selfies documenting your vacation, people tend not to print these pictures,” she says, noting that statistics indicate that these pictures stay on a disk or memory card.

Taking special pictures of your family members on a trip will give you images that you can look at and reflect on, says Zacks. ‘There is nothing more special to look at than a 100 year old printed photo.  The younger generation geared to cell phones won’t have this experience.

For more information about Multi-Generational Travel vacations, go to http://www.gocollette.com

For details on planning a stress free family vacation, go to travel.aarp.org/articles-tips/articles/info-10-2013/how-to-plan-a-stressfree-multigenerational-trip.html.

Herb Weiss, LRI ’12 is a Pawtucket-based writer who covers aging, health care and medical issues.  He can be reached at hweissri@aol.com.

Overnight Vacations Popular with Aging Baby Boomers

Published in Pawtucket Times, August 1, 2014

As the nation slowly emerges from a severe economic downturn along with gas prices rising, a new AARP Bulletin Survey delves into travel planning of vacationing boomers. A phone survey, statistically sampling 76 million baby boomers sought, to shed light on their views on overnight vacations, specifically, trips taken away from home that usually lasted one night or longer.

According to the May 2014 report, “Boomers and Vacations: An AARP Bulletin Survey,” over 57 percent of the nation’s boomers say they are planning to take an overnight vacation in the next 12 months. Among those planning this overnight vacation, seven-in-ten (68%) responded they may take more than one overnight trip, while three-in-ten (29%) reported they are just planning to make one overnight excursion.

Getting Away for Short Vacations

The 19 page AARP report noted that almost half of those surveyed (47%), who are planning overnight vacations in the next 12 months, are planning one or two week vacations, while just one-third (34%) are planning to take longer trips, lasting over two weeks.

Overnight vacations can hit boomer vacationer’s right in their wallets, indicate the AARP report’s findings, with survey respondents noting they will budget a minimal of $1,000, up to a whopping $5,000 for an overnight vacation outing. The majority of those surveyed (56%) say that they plan to travel with their spouse or partner, 15 percent plan traveling with their child or children. Meanwhile, seventeen percent say they will go it alone. .

While two-thirds (64%) of vacationing boomers say they will travel to another state within the United States, twenty percent will travel throughout their home state, noted the AARP report. However, 19 percent of survey respondents say they will book vacations outside of the country, with Europe being found to be the most popular destination (38%) followed by Latin or South America (21%), Caribbean (13%), and Canada (10%).

As to motives taking overnight vacations, most respondents say “to see, connect, or spend time with family and/or friends (45%), or “for a pure fun, or relaxation (38%).

Balancing Work and Play

The AARP findings suggest that Boomers are active and looking for ways enjoy life,” Rhode Island State Director Kathleen Connell said. “We all know that staying active is important for both physical and mental health as we age. If this is a trend, I hope it builds and I think it will,” she says, noting that one of the reasons will be that AARP motivates people to be maintain active lifestyles – whether it’s an extended vacation or a day trip to a nearby attraction.

Connell believes that as boomers decide to work longer for the purpose of retirement security, they also realize that as they work longer and harder they have earned a break. “Working longer allows people to delay dipping into retirement savings. Many say that if that’s your plan, you actually can and should reward yourself and take that vacation and return to work refreshed.” she says.

“As to those Boomers who have ‘retired,’ I shouldn’t have to tell you that AARP encourages those people to get out and enjoy life,” says Connell.

“The AARP study certainly reinforces the fact that Boomers have a significant amount of discretionary income and that they are an important part of the economy. If the Boomers stayed home, the tourism industry would be is big trouble,” she observes.

Connell states that “Rhode Island is a great destination for people of all ages and I am sure that the local tourism promoters are aware of that. It’s very competitive out there when it comes to capturing Boomers, so the good news is that even attractive destinations such as Rhode Island offer travel discounts and incentives. People should take advantage, and I imagine the AARP survey reflects some of these opportunities to save, too.”

Rhode Island Tourism Officials Have Their Say

Carl G Richardson, Director, Branch Office Sales & Service, of AAA Southern New England, cites similarities in AARP’s report findings from his personal experiences in the travel industry. Just like the findings that 15% of Boomers are traveling with their child or children, “we’re seeing our members traveling with their grandchildren as well.”

Another finding as to the reason for travel also jumps out for Richardson. “When we conduct our Holiday Travel forecasts we see “visiting family or friends” as the number one reason members travel 50 miles or more away from home. AARP’s findings supports that point,” he says.

Mark Brodeur, Rhode Island’s Tourism Director with Commerce RI, sees boomers as a generation driving tourism to the Ocean State for more than three decades.

As the state’s main sales person and a boomer, Brodeur understand this demographic group, especially their buying power associated with them. “American Express Travel insights indicated that more than 50% of Rhode Island overnight visitors are 50 and above,” he says.

“Boomers are foodies where Rhode island’s varied and celebrated culinary scene fits right in with this demographics interest, says Brodeur, noting that they want fresh, farm or ocean to table creations in a unique atmosphere. “Rhode Island offers some for the country’s best food and foodie experiences. Walking tours, culinary museum, cooking classes, wine, brews and now distilled lavations,” he says…

Brodeur adds, “The boomer is active; walking, cycling, swimming, sailing, tennis. Whether you’re offshore or landside, Rhode Island offers the perfect soft adventure. He observes that the boomer generation is considered lifelong learners; they’re curious, very educated and intellectual. “Rhode Island is a classroom with Colonial to gilded age, industrial to pristine and natural. Audubon, art museums, historic societies and attractions offer educational experiences that are world class,” he says.

Robert Billington, President, of the Pawtucket-based Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, is a firm believer of overnight vacations, experimenting with the idea of seeing providing trips for Rhode Islanders in their home state. Over a decade ago, the Central Falls resident developed a tour, “Tour Rhode Island, There’s No Place Like Home,” one that attracted the attention of Boomers and seniors. “Over 1,200 persons returned, year after year, traveling to sites throughout the Ocean State in 24 motor coaches,” he says.

The tour gave Rhode Islander’s a chance to personally visit places in their home state they never saw, state’s Billington. “Our state has so much to offer visitors and even more to offer its residents but sometimes you have to be shown the beauty in your own back yard,” he adds.

Billington says, for Rhode Island Boomers, especially those outside of the state, the greatest thing Rhode Island offers to vacationers is its size. “You can enjoy the best of America within a1, 240 square miles drive…”

Planning Your Overnight Getaway

AARP’s newest tool to plan your overnight getaways (travel.aarp.org/weekend-getaways), includes itineraries curated by Fodor’s Travel. The collection recommends local escapes less than three hours from home, including where to eat, shop, and stay, from popular cities including Denver, Washington, D.C. and more locations nationwide.

As detailed in a recent release, AARP Travel’s range of travel tools and features include:

● Trip Finder — a fun, smart and visual series of questions to deliver ideas and recommendations for destinations — including some unexpected ones;

● Map Explorer — a detailed street-level interactive map that includes attractions, restaurants, hotels, local color and reviews for each destination;

● My Trips — a personal page where users can save and organize trip ideas, itineraries and related articles in one place and add to or edit them over multiple visits;

● Articles and Destinations — travel tips from AARP Travel Ambassador Samantha Brown, articles specifically geared toward the 50+ traveler and information about hundreds of domestic and international locations; and

● Book Trips — booking tools provided through AARP’s relationships with
Expedia and Liberty Travel and directly to hotels, and rental cars.

Data for AARP’s “Boomers” and Vacation Plan survey were gathered by a random-digit dial telephone omnibus survey fielded March 5-March 30, 2014, using a national representative sample of 1,410 respondents ages 49 to 67 (Boomers). Of those, a total of 907 respondents are under age 60 and a total of 461 are age 60+, and 42 respondents refused to report their actual age.

Herb Weiss, LRI ’12, is a Pawtucket-based writer covering aging, health care and medical issues. He can be reached at hweissri@aol.com.