Agents losing out to operators in over-50s market

Agents losing out to operators in over-50s market

Less than a third of over 50s use a travel agent to book holidays, with just 15% visiting in person, research published today (Tuesday) reveals.

More than half (56%) of older travellers prefer to deal direct with operators, including 40% who book online, while 16% prefer to speak on the phone.

Travel agents are used by only 30% of bookers, with 15% going to the agency and 15% making contact by phone or online.

Those in the older demographic are adopting digital technology faster than any other age group, especially when it comes to social media with 70% of over 50s having a Facebook profile.

The findings are disclosed in a new survey by Silver Travel Advisor, with an analysis of 500 respondents over the age of 50, 80% of them over 60.

The study found that 70% of over 50s take three of more holidays a year, while 20% take five or more.

Almost half (48%) are investing in their travel experiences, spending more than £3,000 per person a year on holidays, with 24% of this group spending over £5,000 – up from 22% last year.

Nearly three quarters (74%) take more holidays now than before they were 50. More than 40% say they are more adventurous now compared to before they were 50.

The older demographic are adopting digital technology faster than any other age group, with 70% of over 50s having a Facebook profile

As many as 57% of the over 50s were influenced to book holidays by the availability of activities. The biggest factor amongst these was walking or hiking (31%), followed by musical performance such as opera at 17%, cookery at 12% and yoga/pilates at 11%.

Low interest rates and ‘silver wanderlust’ have persuaded a sizeable proportion of mature travellers to spend their money on trips rather than leave it invested. More than a third (38%) said poor returns on their savings meant their spent more on travel.

More than 80% of over 50s in the UK expect to enjoy travelling until they are aged at least 75 – and three quarters feel ten or more years younger than they actually are.

However, a digest of industry statistics on the older age travel sector points to an increasingly polarized older population.

The over 50s account for 76% of the UK’s wealth, with 68% of over 55s describing themselves as financially comfortable and more than one in ten pensioners having total wealth worth over £1million.

But the richest half of elderly households hold nearly 90% of the wealth and the top 10% hold 40% of the wealth, largely as a result of rising house prices.

The bottom 50% hold just 7% of the wealth, and more than one in seven people will retire with only their state pension for support.

Silver Travel Advisor managing director, Debbie Marshall, said: “Many over 50s have the wealth, the good health and the keen sense of adventure to make travel their spending priority in their later years.

“The opportunities are there – but travel companies need to think carefully about which segments they are targeting, which channels they use and how they communicate with them, as well as using age-appropriate creative content and tone of voice.”

Two thirds  of respondents (67%) think people should not even be considered old until they hit 80, and 18% said someone was not old until they reached their 10th decade.

The latest findings suggest that age is no longer a deterrent to travelling the world, especially among those with good pensions and without serious mobility or health problems,

More than a third (36%) of those questioned thought their “good years” of travel would continue until they were at least 80.



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