In our lifetime, we will never see another demographic that has as much disposable cash to spend or as much free time as our current seniors.At MyTravelResearch.com, we have interviewed, researched and ‘studied’ thousands of seniors and their travelling habits. Seniors come with a natural intrigue and a zest for life that we rarely see with any other segment of the market.
Today’s seniors were a product of ‘the swinging sixties’ and the seventies. In Western societies, they were a generation that saw liberated sexual experiences, the pill, the rise in feminism, experimentation with substances and a new freedom never experienced before. Many of them were wild, adventurous and exploratory. Today they are looking to rekindle that fire through travel adventures now that the kids have left home.
Yet, I still see the travel industry not really taking them seriously. They still perpetuate cringe-worthy stereotypes that most seniors cannot relate to.
Let’s fix that. Here are MyTravelResearch.com’s five critical changes that you should make for effective marketing to seniors.
1. Use Ageless Marketing, Particularly Imagery
Embrace the paradox: seniors don’t think they are senior, therefore they do not readily relate to images of seniors or text that talks to seniors. Age-based marketing is counter productive. Age does not define values, attitudes or behaviour. Use ageless marketing that emphasises universal values such as love, friendship, loyalty, altruism and fitness.
Insight to Action: Ensure your images and photos reflect self perception and appeal to attitude not age. Use a mix of ageless marketing with a perceived age of seniors, that is 10-15 years younger! Old age should not be implied, stated or said. Include single females.
2. Emphasis Value, Not Low Cost
Contrary to popular myth, the senior traveller is not obsessed with cheap deals. They are very clear about this. When they do their research, they are simply looking for value for money – travelling in off-peak periods, bonus night offers, food and beverage deals, late check-outs, or tie-ins with local service providers.
Insight to Action: Focus on value rather than price. Value is quality for money well spent. Price must stay within range of the competition. Value is more persuasive than cost.
3. Be Smart About Search Engine Use
It is not necessary to use the term ‘senior’ on your website, unless you are referring to a discount in your pricing (then they’ll happily become a ‘senior’). The secret is to talk to a mindset and attitude rather than an age group. If you are paying big bucks for the term “Senior Travel” through Adwords or any sort of pay per click campaign, think again. Seniors who do actually include the search term ‘senior’ tend to be penny pinching and will give you a very low conversion rate.
Insight to Action: If you’re marketing to a wide demographic, too much use of the word ‘senior’ becomes off-putting to the broader market. Use ‘senior’ discreetly, when referring to pricing only.
4. Use Language That Hints at Life-Changing Experiences
Seniors are not so interested in acquiring material assets. They’re interested in acquiring life-changing experiences – especially in travel.
Insight to Action: use the right language, such as: “Get to know your husband again” (relationships); “You now have the time to learn” (enrichment and improving yourself); “This is your time” (health and wellness travel); “You have done the hard yards, the kids are gone – you owe it to yourself” (having fun).
5. Market to Single Seniors
We have seen a rapid growth in senior singles wanting to travel. The majority are women. They may be newly divorced or newly widowed. Or we have often come across a married single senior whose husband or partner has no interest in travel. It is important to appeal to a sense of emotional security.
Insight to action. Address their pain points such as, “I have no one to sit with at the dinner table with”; “It will be full of happily married couples and I will be the only single one there”; “I am self conscious” (for this generation, it is hard to be single and proud);“Will I be safe travelling on my own?”
Do justice to your audience, destination and business when marketing to seniors. It’s a fine line to walk. But it can be done.