When travel and tourism organizations make marketing and advertising decisions, what influencers are at play? Does the fact that many marketers, generally in their 20s or 30s, like to promote to a peer age group factor in to decisions? Does the need to be trendy i.e. youthful come into play? Does routine or “the way we’ve always done it” influence decisions?
For whatever reason, little travel and tourism advertising is directed to people over age 55. Although almost 80 percent of all the financial wealth in America is held by people 50+, marketers persist in targeting their message to young singles and young families. This demographic is often the most cash and debt strapped group in America.
One of the world’s leading tourism experts thinks that travel and tourism marketers’ focus is misguided.
Dr. Simon Hudson, the Endowed Chair at the Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism at the University of South Carolina, sees a need for change. Hudson was shocked at the lack of research into the 55+ traveler cluster so he took on the project himself. The result is the wonderfully insightful new report: “Wooing Zoomers: Marketing to the Mature Traveler,” recently published by Marketing Intelligence & Planning magazine.
Hudson will be presenting his findings and the highlights of his report at the 11th Annual National Active Retirement Association (NARA) “Power Tools” Business Conference at the Columbia (SC) Convention Center Oct. 20-22 (retirementlivingnews.com).
Hudson was lured to the University of South Carolina from the University of Calgary in Canada. He has held academic positions at two universities in England, and has worked as a visiting professor in the U.S., Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. Prior to working in academia, Dr. Hudson spent several years working in the tourism industry in Europe.
Hudson has written five books. Tourism is South Carolina’s largest business enterprise, estimated to employ 200,000 and foster up to $17 billion in spending. But, Hudson feels that marketers and the state could do more. Suffice to say that Hudson believes that travel and tourism organizations should “follow the growth in population and follow the money.” That’s the 76 million aging baby boomer segment.
Hudson is just one of America’s top experts who will be speaking at the NARA conference. Professionals, academicians, real estate developers, marketers, salespeople, city/town representatives and other business professionals seeking to capitalize on the unprecedented aging of America will attend. Topics will range from internet marketing to strategies to attract retirees to invest in your community. Speakers will also offer advice on how to successfully design, build and market 55+ housing, as well as market 55+ targeted products and services.
“As America ages, we are faced with enormous challenges and opportunities to serve this burgeoning market segment,” said NARA Director Dan Owens. “Every six seconds, an American turns 50 and professionals need to get attuned to this marketplace to be successful in our changing economy.”
“A large number of active retirees have moved in early retirement in the past five years bringing hundreds of millions of investment dollars to states. As the economy starts to recover, you see home buying being led by those 55+ buyers who have the financial ability to move…and often pay cash for their new home.”
Past conferences have attracted business professionals from 16 states, Canada and Mexico.
On Wednesday, October 20, sessions featuring two national experts will be open to the public. Helen Foster, of New Orleans and formerly of J. Walter Thompson’s Mature Market Group, will discuss marketing, positioning and branding and her extensive work in helping the State of Louisiana market to retirees. Following Foster, Dr. Joe Gribbin, head of the masters’ program at the Erickson School at the University of Maryland, will give a detailed presentation about the future of Social Security and Medicare. Gribbin is considered one of America’s foremost authorities on the future of Social Security.
Other speakers include:
• Dave Reitz, Chicago, Ill. Formerly a leading executive with Del Webb’s Sun City brand, Dave now works in the residential building market targeting 55+ buyers.
Colin Milner, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Founder and CEO of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), one of the world’s visionaries on the health and well-being of the older adult.
• John Cromartie, Washington, D.C. A senior demographer at the Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, John has focused on retiree migration to rural areas.
• Gene Warren, Phoenix, AZ. A principal in Thomas+Warren, Gene is a leading authority on where retirees move and why.
• Tom Mann, Baltimore, MD. A principal of TR Mann Consulting and the Tuesday Morning Sales Club. Tom is also a co-founder of the networking group Mature Market Experts. Tom’s clients include senior housing developers, magazines, financial and consumer products and several fitness products, all aimed at serving the boomer and senior markets.
Richard “Dick” Ambrosius, South Dakota, VP, NeoCORTA, an organization committed to assessing and improving brain fitness among older adults. Dick is also considered to be an expert in marketing, positioning and branding companies to the 55+ market.
The Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board is the host organization and a Diamond Level sponsor. Other sponsors include the Go Texan state retiree attraction program and the Erickson School of Aging. All NARA sessions will be held at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia’s resurgent downtown “Vista” entertainment district.