According to a new Mintel report – succinctly summed up by Travelmole here – Brits aged 55 and over are taking a record number of holidays. Great news for our industry, obviously. But I was really struck by a quote from Mintel’s senior analyst John Worthington, who suggested that online booking was now becoming the norm amongst this age group.
I think he’s probably more right than we might have expected. Certainly a relatively simple holiday experience – a city break or an all-inclusive package – is easily and probably most conveniently booked online. But the traditional wisdom has been that for something more complex, consumers – and especially the older ones – will still turn to the traditional channels.
I wonder if this is still really the case, though. Today’s over-55s have now lived through two decades which have seen internet shopping come to dominate every area of retail. Not only that; they have helped to shape the retail environment with their choices. They LIKE shopping online.
Given that a large part of the fun of a holiday is in the planning and research, it’s not much of a step to imagine even these so-called ‘silver travellers’ booking their multi-centre itineraries step by step.
Friends of mine who fit this age profile have just booked flights to Bangkok, but nothing beyond that. They haven’t decided what they will do when they get there. A couple of nights in the city, yes. But after that, they’re open to an island retreat, or heading north to Chiang Mai, or even touring Vietnam or Cambodia. They are perfectly happy to book their trip in several different stages.
Different people will always need different degrees of hand-holding. And there are plenty of destinations that even I, as an experienced traveller who knows the industry, would feel more comfortable booking through an expert. But I do think the model is in transition. It will be fascinating to see where it goes next.