Baby boomers continue to be a potent force in travel, according to a new report from AARP.
The 50 plus age group spends more than $120 billion a year on leisure travel, according to AARP’s recently-released Travel Research: 2015 Boomer Travel Trends.
And baby boomers are expected to take four to five trips in 2015, the report said.
Ninety-seven percent expected to travel domestically on one trip while 45% anticipated taking an international trip.
“If the pie itself grows with additional trips, there are more opportunities for travel agents,” said Stephanie Miles, AARP vice president, member value.
Agents targeting baby boomer clients can help them get the most out of trips that involve “everyday travel,” said Miles.
She defined this kind of travel as trips for events like graduations and family reunions. “There is a great deal of that, and it’s a real opportunity to make the most of that,” she said.
Baby boomers “could extend the trip or do more with the time by planning ahead,” she added.
The online challenge
Still, agents face challenges in attracting this market.
Eighty-five percent of respondents said they used an online resource for making travel decisions and/or booking trips. Popular choices were hotel or travel booking sites like Expedia and Travelocity. The most popular review site is TripAdvisor, according to the report.
Work, work, work
In what are “potentially competing trends,” Miles said baby boomers want to relax and reconnect with family and friends, but—at the same time—often sacrifice vacation days for work.
Ninety-one percent of employed respondents will have paid vacation time in 2015 but only half said they will use all or most of the vacation time for personal travel, the report said.
In addition, a third of the respondents expected to bring work with them on trips.
That’s not surprising.
The study found that 46% believed it’s at least “somewhat important” to stay connected to work during personal travel while 32% said they were likely to bring work with them on vacation.
Getting away from it all
Baby boomers’ top reasons to travel were to get away from the everyday routine (57%), to visit family and friends (55%) and to relax and rejuvenate (54%).
Once boomers reached their destination, whether domestic or international, hotels were their number one choice for accommodations.
When traveling internationally, 42% of baby boomers preferred to stay at hotels and 15% percent at resorts.
For domestic travel, 35% favored hotels and another 15%, resorts.
As for transportation, 46% planned to fly and 43% planned to use their own car for domestic travel.
“With four to five trips a year, baby boomers may not fly on all of them but might fly on one of them,” Miles said.