Agents can tap into the millions of pounds of wealth in the over-50s market which is “looking for adventure”, delegates were told.

Ben Nealon, travel account director at Mail Metro Media, said: “Focus on the over-50s – there are 23.6 million aged over 50, a third of the UK population – and they have more than £3 in every £4 of financial wealth.

“They are looking for adventure, activities and experiences – and they prioritise safety (so) book with a well-known company.”

Over-50s also prioritise comfort, so are more likely to book higher quality accommodation and premium flights, he added.

Other speakers highlighted the spending power of mature travellers in the touring and adventure sector.

Tony McAllister, head of innovations, partnerships and digital at Global – which has radio stations such as Classic FM – urged agents to “defy age-based assumptions”. He highlighted adventurous celebrities in their mid-40s to 60s, such as Emma Thompson, Barack Obama, Sandra Bullock and JK Rowling.

Joe Ponte, managing director of operator Explore, said: “Adventure travel is not just for students, it is becoming more mainstream. Our average age is 55 for adventure trips.”

Paul Melinis, Atas chairman and APT UK and Europe managing director, said: “The time has never been better to embrace this lucrative sector – seize the moment and work with Atas members to build your knowledge and sales.”

Debbie Marshall (pictured), managing director of Silver Travel Advisor, said it was important not to patronise ‘platinum pensioners’ and engage with them on social media as well as more traditional channels like brochures. She also advised that marketing material should avoid youthful stereotypes.