Newly-Released AARP survey details travel trends by generation next year — 2016
Published in the Woonsocket Call on December 6, 2015
With the coming New Year, Baby Boomers have already begun to plan next year’s vacations. A new AARP survey released last month gives a little insight into what America’s Boomers are us a glimpse of this generation’s travel trends (about 76 million strong who spend over $120 billion annually to travel), from destinations, to lodging and trip planning tools used.
“The vast majority of Baby Boomers are planning to drive, fly or set sail on leisure trips in 2016, with an average of 4 or 5 trips already in the works,” said Stephanie Miles, VP, Products & Platforms, AARP. “Boomers make up a large segment of the traveling public, and so it’s particularly important for the travel industry to be aware of what Boomers are looking for in their vacations going into 2016. This new survey finds that their travel desires often differ greatly from younger travelers.”
Key motivators for older travelers to take vacations are to spend time with family and friends (54%), to relax (42%) and to get away from the routines of everyday life (39%), note the researchers. Millennials are more likely than any other generation to plan a trip to “go on an adventure.”
According to AARP’s Travel survey, released on November 24, a whopping 99 percent of Baby Boomers respondent say they will travel in 2016, about three-quarters have already chosen their destination(s). About 12 percent who are planning on taking a domestic trip have already booked it in September.
Baby Boomers tend not to use online resources and mobile apps for planning and booking trips to the same degree as their younger generations will, note the survey findings.
For the traveling Boomer, the survey says that the most important items to bring on a trip are meds, comfortable shoes, a camera and sunglasses. But these older travelers do not forget to bring a good book and emergency phone numbers, too
The survey findings indicate that while Boomers carefully watch their pocket books the cost of the trip is not the “deal breaker,” say the researchers. More than half of Millennials and Gen Xers say that cost is a barrier to leisure travel, but only 45 percent of Boomers agree with these younger generations. Additionally, more than 6 in 10 Boomers say that higher airfares have had no impact on their personal travel plans.
International traveling “will be especially hot” next year for older travelers. About 32 percent of the survey respondents plan to be traveling overseas in 2016 with 29 percent scheduling these trip in the spring. Europe attracts the interest followed by the Caribbean and Mexico (each 19 percent) for the older travelers who view these “bucket list” trips or “once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” say the researchers.
But America’s Boomers are also planning to take domestic trips next year on weekends and during the upcoming summer. The survey results indicate that nearly a third of the Boomers will take advantage of hot summer weather to make domestic trips, with 23 percent planning weekend getaways. Twenty-six percent of the older respondents say they will take domestic multi-generational trips (with three or more generations traveling together) in 2016, but that’s down from 32 percent in 2015.
Boomers, heading off to warm U.S. destinations, will be packing their sun tan lotion, shorts and flip-flops when traveling in 2016. Florida (19%) and Las Vegas (9%) will be the most popular domestic destinations for these older travelers. Big cities like New York, Boston and Chicago also catch their attention. While hotels will be booked by a large majority, 30 percent plan to stay with family and friends.
When it comes to hotel lodging amenities, Boomers look forward to free Wi-Fi. Forty-three percent say that when choosing a hotel, free Wi-Fi is key to their booking a room. Eighty six percent of older travelers seeking rental homes also want this amenity. While roughly 4 in 10 Boomers stay at hotels or motels when they travel, Airbnb and VRBO are gaining in popularity: 1 in 10 Boomers are planning to use those services to rent a private residence instead of using a hotel on a 2016 trip.
The researchers say that during travel Boomers do not tend to linger in an airport terminal and are the least likely generation to take advantage of onsite airport amenities, expect for restaurants.
As to social media, the survey found that when on vacation about two-thirds of the respondents say they will not post to a social media site. About eight three percent will stay connected to “the outside world” by watching news on TV or online.
Finally, older workers continue to behave differently from those in other countries. Slightly half plan to use all of their vacation time next years. When on trips, one-third plan to bring work with them that ultimately will account for 10 percent of their vacation time.
AARP’s online survey was conducted September 17-28, 2015 among males and females 18 and older who had taken at least one trip 50 miles or more away from home, with a two-night stay, in the past two years. The survey can be found at aarp.org/2016TravelTrends.