By Pamela Millman, Associate Director, Integrated Marketing, AARP Media Solutions
Uncertainty has been one of the themes coloring the travel industry’s recovery in 2021. Yet while some travelers are putting plans on hold a bit longer, others are choosing to adapt – mapping out more “Plan B” destinations, taking shorter yet more frequent getaways and family vacations, booking at the last minute, and opting for more domestic travel.
Clearly, our desire to get-up-and-go is as strong as ever. And that’s especially true among 50+ travelers.
That’s why 50+ consumers continue to be the backbone of the domestic travel industry. They’ve spent $66 billion over the past year according to MRI-Simmons. And right now, they are actively selecting destinations, booking accommodations, scrutinizing COVID-19 safety protocols, and they are “hopeful” and “excited” at the prospect of more travel, according to the AARP 2021 Travel Trends Study. 6 in 10 (58%) 50+ adults plan to purchase vacation travel in the next year, within the next 6 months they are 20% more likely to reschedule canceled 2020 travel plans. And, 50+ are bigger vacation spenders, having been 24% more likely than younger adults to have budgeted at least $3,000 on vacation within the past year. Once they arrive, they’ll spend more, do more, and stay longer.
For marketers, the 50+ audience offers an effective way to navigate this period of uncertainty by focusing on an audience that has greater potential to build your business. Here are four things to consider to help you connect with them.
Break through the Trust Barrier
Lack of trust is a barrier to progress. For marketers, it can mean severely limited sales growth, especially in uncertain times. Only 14% of 50+ consumers trust a lot of the information they see online – which can have a negative impact on your marketing efforts. That’s why it’s vital to ensure that your brand is naturally associated with trusted sources of information, and always positioned to benefit from the halo effect of highly trusted, credible environments.
Tell a Story that Emphasizes Safety and Fun
As a marketer, you know better than anyone that travel isn’t just a product, it’s an experience that consumers want to fully embrace and appreciate – body, mind, and spirit. And today, safety is clearly on the agenda for 50+ travelers. So, create a campaign that showcases the unique benefits and safety protocols of your company or destination using a storytelling format that’s designed for maximum engagement and impact. Make it easy for your 50+ prospects to picture themselves getting away by telling your story in a contextually relevant lifestyle environment. And consider opportunities where your brand can enjoy 100% share of voice with a mix of custom content and brand advertising.
Create Full-Funnel Motivation and Momentum
How do you move a prospect from dreaming to booking? Use a full-funnel strategy that’s designed to inspire, inform, and drive action. Start with stunning imagery to build awareness and follow it with practical ideas and safety tips tailored to the particular needs and interests of 50+ adults. Consider channels that offer broad reach into the 50+ audience along with cost-effective opportunities for targeting. Then seal the deal with a trusted digital presence. Smooth sailing makes for a great getaway, so look for platforms that enable you to help your prospects conduct their research and complete their transactions with confidence.
Build Your Pipeline with Better Lead Generation
A robust lead generation program can help you build and strengthen relationships with tomorrow’s travelers, today. Look for programs that offer multi-channel integration so that you can connect with prospects across a range of channels and deliver a consistent message. Consumers 50+ consult multiple information sources when making purchase decisions; when prospects reach out to you, it’s important to provide them not only with information but a sense of your brand and the experience and value you deliver and look for ways to keep them engaged. Finally, consider lead generation programs that provide you with weekly data reports, so that you can track your progress as you acquire more qualified leads.
The Bottom Line
The 50+ audience is in the best position to travel, and they’re making plans now for some long-awaited “trips of a lifetime” in 2022. Help them safely get back to doing what they love, and you’ll soon be destined for new levels of growth.