Travel agents take heed! There is an affluent new breed of traveller who you are in danger of losing if you do not rise to the challenge of offering “book it” ideas—the over 50s—who make up 43 per cent of the population—are no longer satisfied with cruises or holidays around the pool in the sun. We have a thirst for life, money in our pockets and we want some fun!
Forget offering us rambling holidays or cruises, we are seeking challenges while we are still fit and active enough to enjoy them. We are willing to consider a polar expedition, go on a Voodoo holiday, try out bungee jumping in New Zealand, quad biking in Morocco, travel the Extra-Terrestial Highway in the USA on a motorbike, head off for a night in a converted whisky barrel and we might even be interested in Zero Gravity trips into space. We want to grab opportunities and see the world. We want to travel further, more often and stay away for longer.
So what sort of holiday will appeal to this market? You would be surprised. While some will enjoy butterfly-spotting in Macedonia or a yodeling holiday in Austria, others are gearing up for proper adventures and heading off on Arctic Boot camps or testing out skijoring, and even staying in hand-built igloos to observe the Northern Lights. You discount these ideas at your peril because if you do not offer unusual and thrilling opportunities, companies online most definitely will and us over-50s are a savvy bunch happy to surf the net to discover the perfect holiday.
Many older people have disposable income that they are willing to spend on holidays. The new laws allowing us to get hold of our pensions will surely mean even more of us will be seeking holidays of a lifetime and we don’t just want a trip up Machu Picchu or to visit the Taj Mahal—as exciting as that may be. Oh no! We fancy spending months living in huts on tiny Caribbean islands, learning to free dive and fish. We want to wander through the huge wisteria tunnel in Japan then observe a sumo wrestling match. We desire up-close experiences of gorillas or komodo dragons or we want to help out at elephant orphanages in Thailand. We might even want to go paragliding in South Africa from Table Mountain or take a ride on a zip wire over the canopy of the rainforest.
Even those of us who might not desire pure adrenaline-seeking adventure want holidays with a difference. We fancy driving Ferraris in Florence or the thrill of a Vespa tours in Rome, so check with local guides to see what extra is available for tourists and offer your discerning clients a package they cannot refuse.
If you thought it was only youngsters who developed a lust for wandering, think again. We’ve observed our offspring enjoy themselves while we were working and now it is our turn to experience these opportunities. We’ll have a go at those activities taken up by gap year students. We’ll even try backpacking because we are active, mentally and physically able and in our heads, we are still youthful.
So, the next time someone over 50 comes into the agency, offer them something new to add to their ‘book it’ list after all, we only live once!