4 minute read

Leisure Travel: How to Personalize to Generation X and Baby Boomers

At this point, the travel industry has a pretty solid grasp on the Millennial travel mindset: they’re avid travelers and adventurers, seeking to explore new cultures and cuisines more than previous generations. In fact, Millennials and Gen Z seek experiential travel 49% more than Gen X and Baby Boomers (and yes, some are “doing it for the ‘gram”). As marketers, we’ve also begun executing ways to better connect with younger travelers—including the need to provide the personalized and convenient interactions they now expect from brands across every industry, whether ordering from Amazon or booking through Airbnb.

But it’s not just Millennials who value personalization—older travelers do, too. 72% of consumers of all ages say they now only engage with marketing tailored to their interests, and 90% are willing to share their behavioral data for a cheaper and easier brand experience. Baby Boomers and Gen X vacation every 8.2 months and 10.9 months respectively, granting a huge opportunity to execute targeted campaigns for these customers.

So while you’re shifting your personalization strategies to cater to the next generation of leisure travelers, be sure to keep in mind some important distinctions and strategies to drive loyalty with your older audiences. Here are the top four recommendations to effectively personalize to Gen X (ages 40-54) and Baby Boomers (ages 55-75+) based on our recent consumer research:

1. Provide category-level messaging and discount alerts for more subtle personalization.

When tailoring content to Baby Boomers and Gen X, opt for more subtle forms of personalization. While highly relevant, cross-channel engagement appeals to younger travelers, Boomers and Gen X are more cautious with the data brands are collecting about them and, in return, the interactions they have with a brand.

In fact, Baby Boomers find personalized marketing 30% creepier than any other generation and are more likely to stop purchasing from a brand or to unsubscribe. They’re also less likely to welcome newer forms of marketing communications such as mobile push notifications. That said, older generations do favor messaging that makes it easier to research and book their vacation.

When developing campaigns, remember that deeper levels of personalization or certain channels may not go over well with Boomers and Gen X. Keep your personalization subtle by nurturing them along with market or brand-level recommendations and travel discount alerts that make it easier (and more convenient) to complete their booking. This helps you make your personalization tactics less obvious while still sending the highly relevant content your Boomer and Gen X customers appreciate.

2. Send messaging upfunnel, as booking consideration periods are low.

Another recommendation for targeting personalization to Baby Boomers and Gen X: send them messages earlier in the booking funnel. Older generations spend less time exploring different options when making their travel plans, so being proactive with in-the-moment messaging is key.

On average, Gen X and Baby Boomers book their trips three months in advance and spend the least amount of time considering their travel options (transportation to and from their destination, overnight accommodations, on-site activities, etc.). They spend 11 hours on average researching and planning, which is 15% less time than Millennial and Gen Z travelers. By sending booking abandonment messages in as real time as possible—instead of days later or right before they’re about to book—you have the best chance of re-engaging and converting them.

According to a Think With Google survey, 51% of smartphone users purchased from a different company than they originally intended because the right messaging appeared exactly when they needed it. It’s all about reaching customers at the right time with the right message, and for older travelers, timing is everything.

3. Incorporate user-generated content, reviews, and recommendations.

The opinions of others have the biggest influence on consumer travel considerations—and this is especially true with Gen X and Baby Boomers. Older customers tend to make their travel decisions predominately based on family or friend recommendations (64%), followed by online reviews (26%) and website recommendations (15%).

Cater to these considerations by incorporating more user-generated content and online reviews directly into your messaging. For example, pull TripAdvisor reviews and ratings directly into your email content, and showcase travel recommendations (i.e. most popular destinations) on your site based on similar customer behavior or past bookings.

4. Utilize campaign suppression, and/or blast send personalization tactics to decrease the number of emails received.

No one likes being inundated with emails, and this is especially true with Gen X and Baby Boomers. In fact, the number one reason why consumers ages 45 and older unsubscribe from email lists is due to receiving too many emails.

To avoid overwhelming your Boomer and Gen X customers, utilize campaign suppressions to reduce the number and frequency of emails you send them versus younger audiences. In addition, a great way to keep emails personalized without over-sending is by personalizing your blast sends with dynamic content blocks that pull in specific items or information they previously engaged with.

Looking for more generational insights and key trends related to leisure travel behaviors, motivations, and loyalty drivers? Read our Leisure Travel Report.