February 06, 2013

In travel, we’re all boomers now

From new hotel Web sites to shorter cruises to smaller tours, the travel industry is redoubling its efforts this year to win the hearts and wallets of people between the ages of 49 and 67, writes The New York Times.

It’s a generation that, given its size (about 26 percent of the population) and its collective wealth (it controls the lion’s share of the country’s disposable income), has been shaping the nation’s travel choices for decades. Your lost summer backpacking through Europe? Thank the boomers who in the 1960s and ’70s made shoestring student trips to Europe de rigueur. Your naughty romp at Club Med? It was the boomers who propelled the singles resort scene to its apotheosis in the 1970s. Your posh room at the Copacabana Palace in the 1990s? Fueled by boomers’ appetite for luxury hotels.

Yet when the economy tanked in 2008, boomers began snapping their wallets shut and stowing their luggage in their closets instead of airplane bins, helping to send the travel industry into a tailspin. Now, five years later, with the economy showing signs of recovery and the first wave of boomers retiring, many travel companies have declared a New Year’s resolution: seduce the boomer. (Again.)

Whether it’s a yen for Wi-Fi in the Serengeti or a disdain for bus tours, boomers’ latest needs, whims and aspirations are determining 2013’s large and small vacation trends. Some are new. Others have been around but will become more prevalent. Having studied the predilections of people born between 1946 and 1964 as if they were a tribe recently discovered by anthropologists, travel companies are rolling out services designed to woo and recapture a generation of travelers.

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