Silver sector tightens belt but retains its travel ambitions

More silver travellers than ever are looking and booking their holidays online, according to a newly published survey conducted by Silver Travel Advisor.

From the survey of 1,000 respondents - two thirds of whom were aged 50-69 and over a quarter aged 70-79 - it found that two thirds (67%) are researching and/or booking online, up from 61% last year, and although the amount people were expecting to spend on travel fell overall, 85% of respondents expect to take the same number (65%) or more (20%) holidays in the coming year compared to the previous 12 months.

The proportion of people expecting to spend over £3,000 per person a year on travel fell to 40% this year, from 48% last year, while nearly double the number of people said they would spend less than £1,000, as economic concerns take hold.

While many pensioners are enjoying a comfortable retirement, this does not apply to all and more than 80% of respondents felt that the wealth of pensioners is exaggerated in the media.

Despite this lower holiday spend, when it comes to the biggest reasons for choosing a particular travel company, price came bottom of the list. The most important factors were good experiences with the company (73%), company reputation (60%), good customer service (57%) and being fully bonded (49%), illustrating that reassurance, trust and empathy remain the priorities for older travellers.

For holiday inspiration, many older travellers turn to travel agents – 23% would see or speak to an agent in the first instance, although the internet and travel review websites are emphatically the first ports of call at 68% and 70% respectively.

Brexit, currency exchange rates and concerns about terrorism are influencing where older people are looking to travel; just over half of respondents said that Brexit and currency exchange rates would make them avoid Eurozone or US dollar-based countries or holiday in the UK, although 30% of respondents said they would holiday in Europe this year while they do not need a post-Brexit visa.

Debbie Marshall, MD of Silver Travel Advisor, said: “Today’s older travellers are very much part of the digital age; two thirds of the over 50s are looking and/or booking online, either through travel agents or direct with travel companies, hotels, airlines and intermediaries. The more complicated the booking, the more likely older people are to use travel agents. These are savvy, smart, resourceful people who just happen to be older than most of the working population. And although things are not easy for all of them, they are still where most of the travel money is.

“Certainty, security and service is the mantra for success when it comes to the older travellers. Company reputation, the delivery of excellent customer service that is not patronising, the assurance that they will be in safe hands - all these things matter more than price to the silver traveller.”

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