Why the mature travel market is booming
by April Wardy

The UK’s mature travellers are reshaping the market thanks to their unique preferences and considerable financial advantages. From solo and off-peak travel, to a desire to stay active, the financial stability of the over 50’s (relative to the general population) means this cohort are a key audience for leisure and travel brands. Here’s 5 reasons you should be targeting mature audiences in 2024….

  1. Show me the money

A large percentage of mature travellers in the UK are mortgage-free, providing them with a financial edge over middle-aged and younger audiences, especially against a backdrop of rising mortgage rates. This financial stability means they are more likely to have disposable income to allocate towards travel and leisure activities. Saga Holidays 2023 trends found that the cost-of-living crisis wasn’t affecting the travel plans of the majority of over 50’s.

Over-55s are also significantly more valuable to the UK travel market than under-35s, pre-pandemic, Mintel research found they took 30% more trips in 2019 and spent 52% more on them.

2. A preference for home
While the overseas travel market understandably took longer to recover post-pandemic, even with the world once again open, Saga’s research still found a preference for UK travel, with 61% saying they’d definitely take a holiday at home.

For day outs in the UK, more mature travellers show a keen interest in cultural and historical sites, gardens, and areas of natural beauty. There’s a noticeable appreciation for destinations that offer educational value, tranquillity, and the opportunity to be immersed in the scenic landscapes of the UK. Accessibility remains a key factor, with preference for well-facilitated locations offering easy access, parking, and comfortable amenities.

3. And for adventure…

With all this talk of home comforts, you may be thinking that mature travellers lack a sense of adventure – far from it! Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) found that over a third of UK baby boomers have decided to book a life-changing trip following the pandemic, while Hazel McGuire from adventure travel specialists, Intrepid Travel, told Euronews this month that:

 “Bookings from UK customers aged 60-plus were up 42 per cent last year compared to before the pandemic,”

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines have also seen a similar trend with more than two fifths of over 55s (42%) claiming to be adventurous, according to a recent survey.

4. Going solo…

The market for solo travel among mature travellers is showing significant growth, reflecting broader trends in adventure-seeking among older adults. Solo travellers make up 11% of the overall travel market with women over 50 more likely to take a solo holiday according to Saga Holidays, who also revealed a 20% increase in solo bookings vs. 2023.

5. Booking online…

While many older travellers still prefer to book in person at a travel agent, the move online has not been confined to younger travellers. Interestingly, older generations are not only more likely to book well in advance, but also engage in thorough research online, often utilising TripAdvisor and Google Reviews to plan their travels​. A quarter of over 50’s are engaged with travel brands owned digital channels or online advertising, with around 40% happy to book a holiday online. This increases to nearly 60% for 50-59-year-olds.

If you’d like to understand more about how Smithfield can help your leisure, travel or hospitality business, please contact us today.

February 26, 2024

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