Last updated: 02:40 PM ET, Thu October 08 2015

Will the Travel Industry Shift Its Focus from Millennials to Seniors?

Features & Advice Ryan Rudnansky October 08, 2015

Will the Travel Industry Shift Its Focus from Millennials to Seniors?

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

A lot of attention has been placed on millennials in the travel industry today—and for good reason—but one potentially highly valuable and highly lucrative segment of the population may not be getting the attention it deserves.

“Senior Travelers,” or those 60 years of age or older, are only growing in numbers, as Anita Mendiratta of CNN Task Group pointed out, per eTurboNews.

The global share of seniors, in proportion to the world’s population, increased from 9.2 percent to 11.7 percent from 1990 to 2013, in large part due to a decrease in mortality rates and a decline in fertility rates, according to the United Nations World Population Report on Ageing. By 2050, seniors are expected to make up 21.1 percent of the world’s population, according to the same report, growing from 841 million people in 2013 to 2 billion. Seniors are expected to exceed the number of children for the first time ever in 2047.

Also, as Mendiratta pointed out, a recent list sheds even more light on the world’s ageing population.

According to investment group Moody’s list of “Super-Aged Societies By 2030,” Japan is the leading ageing nation. Its current population of 26.4 million elderly people (65 years of age and older) is expected to grow to 30.7 million by 2030.

Germany, Italy, South Korea, France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States (from 14.7 million to 20.1 million), Australia and China follow, in that order.

But it’s not just about the numbers—Senior Travelers tend to have higher levels of disposable income and stay for longer periods of time when traveling, Mendiratta writes. They are a notably big customer base for the luxury and cruise segments. They also tend to bring along their children and grandchildren, as well as form travel clubs and relationships, meaning greater potential for higher revenue per available room (RevPAR) across the travel industry.

But there’s another interesting thing about Senior Travelers. In a fast-paced, technological world, they are on the other end, preferring better one-on-one personalized service to instant gratification.

As Mendiratta writes, “These are the people who not only keep destinations buoyant in the off-seasons, they are the travelers that remind us that, for all of the technology at our fingertips, ours is a service industry based on sharing, caring and delivering a personally enriching experience.”

So, as millennials change the travel industry by demanding more technology and faster service, there’s a chance that trend could be subdued in the next few decades if the travel industry decides to focus more attention on the growing senior segment. Things might actually slow down.

Additionally, travel companies that are mobility-friendly (rather than mobile-friendly) and offer exceptional health and wellness services could benefit greatly.

The world may be moving at lightning speed now, but there’s a chance it may slow down for seniors in the coming years, especially when it pertains to the travel industry.