May 2013

How to Grow Your Senior Customer Base

by Nicole Schlosser, Senior Editor

Some motorcoach carriers are experiencing a shift in the travel preferences of senior customers as baby boomers move into the senior group. Customers from this demographic want different experiences, which requires different marketing approaches.

Baby boomers, between the years of 1946 and 1964, defined as people born post-World War II, are a more independent group than the generation before them. Operators say it’s harder to get them out of their cars.

According to the American Bus Association’s report, “Baby boomers and future seniors: How to get them on motorcoaches” (2008), these seniors tend to be highly educated and want to “participate in meaningful activities such as receiving further education, volunteering and continuously working.”

Baby boomers also want “…experience-rich products and services. Travel…is particularly appealing to this market,” according to the report.
The report adds that for this demographic,  the ability to design their own experience is key, describing “customization” as “essential to motorcoach tours targeting baby boomers.”

Baby boomers are embracing motorcoach travel to take advantage of the opportunity to have someone else do the planning and driving, spend time with friends and learn something new, Bronwyn Wilson, president, International Motor Coach Group, says.

Use QR Codes
Operators need to dispel the notion seniors are not tech-savvy, since that is changing as more baby boomers become senior citizens, with the proliferation of smart phones and mobile gadgets such as iPads.

Portland, Maine-based VIP Tour & Charter Bus Co. is now reaching this growing number of more tech-savvy seniors, as well as  other customers, by using QR Codes to promote more of their tours, Maureen Penfold, director of marketing, VIP Tour & Charter Bus Co., says.

The move, which is part of an advertising package with a local company, cost little in money and time. VIP simply uses an online account to generate a code. The operator then assigns it to a tour and publicizes it on posters to draw customers to the website where they can learn more and make reservations. Customers scan the codes with their mobile devices.

VIP recently piloted the technology as part of its Boston Flower Show Tour in March, putting the codes on fliers. The code is also featured in its TV commercial. Soon, the carrier plans to use QR codes on the backs of its buses.

“There’s a lot of opportunity, because it’s just one simple scan and you can link it to anything you want,” Penfold says.

While it’s too soon to detect a difference in sales, the Boston Flower Show Tour nearly sold out each of the four days of the show.


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