Trends in Leisure Group Travel: Baby Boomers continue to boom, and friends getaways continue to grow

By Mike Stacy Chief Executive Officer, Groople.com | January 27, 2012

There are two trends in leisure group travel that represent a substantial opportunity to hotels. These trends are not so much new to this travel season as they are a continuation of important travel industry developments. The first trend is the increasing size of the Baby Boomers as a percentage of total travel consumers. Baby Boomer households are defined as having a head of household age 41-64. This consumer segment has high levels of disposable income, and according to the Travel Industry Association this age group accounts for more total annual trips than any other age group. The second trend I will address is the increasing popularity of friends getaways.

According to John Naisbitt what sets trends apart from fads is their predictable, long-term impact on a system. Fads become quickly popular, and then their impact fades away just as quickly. In contrast, trends have a lasting impact that shifts society or an entire market in new and interesting ways. True trends have long-term effects that must be considered in order to succeed. As more and more Baby Boomers near and reach retirement age, they are shifting the overall travel industry. While groups of men and groups of women have been getting away on trips, these kinds of trips are growing in popularity. Buzzwords, such as mancation are simply fads that will likely fade away. However, girlfriend getaways and guys-only trips will continue to grow in popularity and will continue to represent a great opportunity for leisure group travel bookings.

Baby Boomer Travel

Baby Boomers are highly likely to travel with children under the age of 18, according to TIA. Why is this important? These travelers are likely to want adjacent rooms, multi-room suites, and other conveniences appropriate to families. Multi-family vacations are becoming increasingly popular, which multiplies the number of people in a single booking that have special requests. The so-called Late Boomers are most likely to have children still living at home, so expect these travelers to be on the younger end of the Boomer age range. Does your hotel currently offer guaranteed adjacent hotel rooms to small groups? Your hotel should offer this because more and more leisure group travelers are likely to want hotels to make these basic considerations.

On the older end of the Baby Boomer spectrum, travelers are opting more and more for spa and luxury travel options. One way to speak to this consumer group is by offering your guests more amenities and services that satisfy the desire to be pampered on vacation. Do not simply offer these amenities and services. Incorporate them into your hotel's personality and messaging so you explicitly speak to these desires. I cannot overemphasize the need to tell these customers you are the right choice for them if you want to be in their consideration set.

Friends Getaways

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.