We all know that the boomer population is upon us those 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964. We may even have gone so far as to design travel programs we think will appeal to them flexible programs, more active programs, programs with intellectual and educational depth, programs of varying lengths and interests. But do we know how to market them? Do we truly know how to communicate with this market?
They may be those who, like me, often do not even bother to open their bulk mail, but rather simply throw it in the trash without peeking inside the envelope. Instead, we need to discover how we can reach this potential clientele not only with different kinds of trips, but at different venues, via different media, and perhaps even with different vocabulary and different ways of doing business. As the old saying goes, Different strokes for different folks.
Most boomers are computer-savvy. They have used computers in their professional life, and they will probably continue to do so as they ease into retirement. It will be up to you to reach out to them in the medium in which they are most comfortable their computer.
They most likely will continue to use e-mail as their major mode of communication coupled with a cell phone, but are embracing social media like it’s going out of business. They will probably wish to pay for the bulk of their trip via credit card, not via check. Are you prepared?
You may need to send out an e-mail newsletter. It can be something as simple as an e-mail message describing trips now open for enrollments or news of world happenings pertinent to travel, or post them to your company’s Facebook page. This will mean that you need to collect e-mail addresses on all trip enrollment forms and on all phone messages.
You may decide that you need to set your organization up as a merchant so that you can accept credit cards.
If you have and out-of-date website for your travel programs, now is the time to clean it up. It can be short and simple, but it should look professional. This may mean paying a pro to set one up for you and to do monthly upkeep. You may even be able to find a student in a nearby college media arts program who would be interested in doing it for you at lesser rates. Remember a website address listed on your flyers, brochures, or ads, makes you look up-to-date, rock-solid, and aware of your markets expectations.
Long ago, I discovered that different groups of travelers utilize different vocabularies to express the same thing. For example, a half-day motorcoach tour might be referred to as a tour by the general public, as a field trip by a teacher, or as an excursion or experience by an adventure traveler. Boomers like to see words like trip or travel program; they do not like the word tour. It implies too much regimentation.
Similarly, free time can be expressed in many ways. How about telling folks that the afternoon is at leisure so that you may each explore the city in your own way? Or, in describing Paris, how about saying, “Today is a totally free day for independent interests time to explore the d Orsay Museum or perhaps just enjoy sitting in a sidewalk cafe to watch the world go by. This is descriptive enough to excite them, but implies that they may choose.
As you can see, selling to this market requires innovative thinking: new modes of communication, new verbiage, and perhaps a whole new way of doing business. But whatever new methods you devise, it will require your reaching out to them in ways with which they are comfortable. Try it!