Mature travellers looking for experiences

brightly attired people in a semi rigid boat on white waterMany older travellers don’t consider themselves to have a disability regardless of any restrictions they may have developed over time. Therefore they may not look for special “access features” on websites or other travel information. An Investigation of the Attitudes of Travel and Tourism Intermediaries to Mature Travellers found that companies that understand the needs of the mature market will benefit from loyal customers and that some modifications regarding access and facilities may be required by hotels and airports. However, it seems that the travel industry has not fully appreciated the value and requirements of the mature age sector. The following gives an idea of the basis for the research.

“It has already been discussed that the so-called ‘baby boomers’ (those born between the 1940s and the 1960s) are in better health, better educated, and more financially independent (at least in the early years of retirement) than previous generations. These travellers are not likely to be satisfied with a sedentary tour. … [This] new group of retirees is significantly different from previous generations in term of their demands and expectations – not so much because of their age or stage in life, but because of what they have done and experienced prior to retirement.

Patterson and Pegg (2011) warn that the increased interest in an ‘experience’ in the experience economy has not passed the mature traveller by. Indeed, they found that mature travellers showed very little interest in holidays that did not teach them something new, take them somewhere unusual, introduce a new culture, or do some good in the local community or environment. This links in with what Cohen (1979, p. 179) argued, that for some, tourism is ‘an earnest quest for the authentic’. Above all, their experience had to be memorable. Cohen (1979) quotes United Nations research claiming that by 2050 22% of the world’s population will be over 60 years of age (some two billion people). This group not only have more financial resources but also tend to travel for longer periods of time, often due to reduced family commitments (e.g. the death of a partner). Therkelsen and Gram (2008, p. 269) suggest that ‘mature people use holidays for expressing who they are’.  This has seen the development of specialist adventure tourism operators offering safaris, rafting, trekking (or ‘tramping’ as it is called in New Zealand), and even kayaking and jet-boating. Hudson (2010, p. 445) warns that ‘Boomers want to squeeze every last drop of their time here on earth rather than settling for an indolent retirement’. ”