The travel industry continuously patronises the over 50s. More fool it, we’ve got money to spend and an appetite for adventure …
Holidays are for people with lean, tanned bodies. For twentysomethings with wires in their ears and huge bags on their backs. For thirtysomethings with kids towing irritating ‘Trunkies’ across crowded arrivals halls. Or for fortysomethings in family groups talking loudly in ra-ra voices on the transfer bus, as if the rest of us don’t exist.
Holidays are also for people like me. That is, the over 50s, who make up 43 per cent of the population.
We have worked hard, might have a bit of money behind us and want to see something of the world. Do you hear that, travel companies? And we don’t all want to sit by a lake in the Alps.
We’re not all ramblers or bird-watchers and while I love cruising more than most, just because we’re older doesn’t mean we ONLY like cruises.
Many of us want to go further, more often and for longer.
Why? For a start many older people have got a lot more money than the youngsters … in fact, we hold 80 per cent of the UK’s wealth! We know what we like and what we don’t and we don’t whinge if we don’t get it, unless there’s a pretty good reason. (Such as, we’re tired. Or menopausal.)
Our mortgages are either paid off, or unlikely to ever be paid off, or we just don’t care any more. We’re up for having a good time because after all, we’ve less time left in the world but more time to enjoy it. And you know what? We even still have sex.
When travel companies take the time to woo us, their adverts and brochures are full of silver foxes with Steradent smiles; robust single ladies a la Widdecombe, or couples togged up in outdoor wear setting out on a rambling holiday.
Why? It’s because it is young people that design the marketing messages and control the advertising images. They actually think that anyone over 50 going on holiday is simply making the most of life in a gentle way before the final inevitable departure board heralds the hereafter.
Fellow travellers and travel marketeers across the UK, hang onto the following thought:
A lot of us still feel twenty years old inside.
Just because you don’t use a photograph of a grey-haired person looking pensive doesn’t mean that we won’t actually know that your holidays to China are available to people over 50 or that there isn’t a total ban on skiing in Val d’Isere for people with wrinkles.
And let’s not advocate ‘special’ holidays for the mature market either with a luggage label that categorises us as ‘over 50’. We don’t want to be told we are old!
Fair enough, if mobility is an issue, concessions and assistance are important, but there are plenty of people in their fifties to eighties who are fit, active and interested enough to take a standard, exotic or luxury holiday without having to be categorised into the ‘grey market’.
What’s more, 70 per cent of us are online, and we use the internet regularly to research and book travel according to the over 50s travel review and advice site, Silver Travel Advisor.
And older travellers are going further, more often and for longer than at any time in the entire history of holidaying.
We’ve been around for a while, you can get quite a lot done in fifty, sixty, seventy or eighty years, so we want to be surprised, amused and looked after, more than anything, we just want to be recognised as a presence in the holiday market, but without being patronised.
So don’t talk down to us, don’t make us feel marginalised and don’t exclude us. Give us a break, literally!
This article first appeared in the Mail Online as a Travel Blog on December 5th 2013.