2 years ago
 

Understanding the older generation and its tech-savvy relationship with travel

Silver Surfers, Baby Boomers, call them what you like – but the older members of a population are a huge segment of the travelling public.

This group is a growing one, too, with life-spans and disposable incomes increasing accordingly.

And, obviously, with corners of the earth now more accessible than ever before, and their penchant for wanting to explore during their twilight years, this has a massive impact on how travel brands should be reaching and engaging with them.

For some reason, so-called Generation-Y gets the lion’s share of attention when it comes to theories about consumer behaviour as a result of changes to technology and the “always connected” nature of modern consumers.

That evolution, however, has not passed the older generation by – as most readers who have created a Facebook profile or helped set up an elderly relative’s new smartphone will attest to.

As a result, academics in Finland have looked at members of the old and wise generation and attempted to establish a number of personas, in particular how they relate to online travel and technology in general.

The Centre for Tourism Studies at the University of Eastern Finland, based in the city of Savonlinna, studied people between the ages of 61 and 78 and came up with three groups:

Three ways to travel and use technology:

1. Adventurous experimenter

Confident both in choosing their destination and using information technology. They are independent travellers who like to try out new destinations and avoid ready-made travel packages.

2. Meticulous researcher

Use technology mainly to search for information, and they appreciate safety and user-friendliness both when it comes to technology and their destination.

3. Fumbling observer

Not very keen to use technology and they often require assistance in using it. This group is the one that also prefers ready-made travel packages and familiar destinations.

senior travel selfie

So what does this all mean those travel brands that are eager to capture more of this growing sector of increasingly tech-savvy consumers?

The researchers argue that senior travellers should not be thought of as a single group of people but, instead, as different market segments that utilise information and buy and use tourism products in different ways.

Senior travellers are not only users of travel agencies, but the proportion of independent senior travellers who use a variety of tourism technologies.

Perhaps most importantly for marketers and online user experience experts, websites should adopt what is known as a “design-for-all” philosophy, rather than focusing on website design solely for the older generation.

Increasingly, senior travellers also share information, not just search for it, with the inevitable use of social networks such as Facebook and photo-sharing websites like Instagram.

Like their younger counterparts, seniors rely on websites for information but also supplement their search for travel information through social media channels.

Finally, there is an increasing level of open-mindedness about travel and their ambitions for exploring the world, yet the personality of each senior is very much connected to both information search and travel behaviour.

NB: The full academic paper can be downloaded here.

NB2: Senior travel images via Shutterstock.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.

 

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