Reaching the Baby Boomers: The 2nd Hump in Your Generational Marketing
By Bonnie Knutson Professor, The School of Hospitality Business/MSU | May 05, 2010
We are Jimmy Buffett, Demi Moore and Clarence Thomas. We are Bill and Melinda Gates, Dorothy Hamill and Scott Hamilton, as well as Barbie and Ken. We are Baby Boomers. Born between 1945 and 1964, we number 76+ million. From the beginning, we have been studied and written about more than any other generation because our sheer numbers have given us, and will continue to give us, unprecedented buying power. We currently enjoy $2.1 billion in spending power and control 50% of all discretionary spending...and we are set to inherit more than $10 trillion in the future. In other words, we are an economic force to be reckoned with.
Some call us the "Me" generation because we were the first group of Americans to put our own needs and desires ahead of the good of the group. We came of age in a period of great economic prosperity, marked by the expansion of suburbia, a television in every home, two cars in every garage, and a college education in our future. Our attitudes toward life and work were formed in the throws of mass marketing, Woodstock, Vietnam, the Pentagon Papers, the resignation of a President, assignations of iconic leaders, and the Miranda decision. As a result, we value individuality, personal growth, and involvement. We have high expectations and demand top service. We celebrate youth, have a health and wellness focus, and will "retread" not retire. For us, work is an adventure and rewards are deserved. And for us, the future is now.
In this article, one of a four-part series on generational marketing, we will look at the second "hump" of your hotel's four-humped customer camel - The Baby Boom generation. Boomers have reshaped each phase of life as they have passed through it, due to their sheer size and tendency towards rebellion and creativity. And they are doing so in your hotel. In their middle years now, they are characterized by a desire to stay fit and healthy for as long as possible and to maintain their youthful looks. As they age, they will redefine the term "seniors" in the same way that they redefined other life stages. With continued improvements in medicine and people living longer and healthier lives, their 70 will become the new 50.
So what products and services can your hotel offer that will be in sync with the values of this generation? Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
*Make them feel special To appeal to this group, it is important to develop strategies to make them feel special. They have been treated that way all their lives and not only value it, they expect it. Personalizing family events (beyond the proverbial "free" birthday dinner), upgrades, and concierge services come to mind. For example, your hotel could assign an employee to go through the local newspapers and magazines every morning to see if any regular customer or member of his/her family is mentioned. If so, cut the article out, laminate it, and mail it to the customer with a personal note signed by you.** **
Integrate technological "toys" Boomers are more au fait with technology than their predecessors and are keen to experiment with the Internet, smart phones, and the latest electronic gadgets. It's cool. Adding complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel in your next renovation, interjecting video clips and/or animated elements of your facilities/services to your website, establishing online blog communities of guests or even sending the invitation to your next event on a CD or flashdrive will catch their fancy. A couple of years ago, in fact, a resort hotel used such a CD to invite meeting planners to a "fam trip" lunch and tour. Very innovative, very Boomer, and very successful.