My fellow TA’s – allow me to speak to you in confidence – as a representative of my generation. We Boomers have some unique, even eccentric needs. By going the extra mile to address those needs you can win our undying loyalty.
In the US there are 77 million of us who were born between 1946 and 1964. We account for 40% of US adult population, control 67% of the nation’s wealth and are responsible for 80% of all luxury travel spending. Plus, we boomers want it our way. We want customization, not ‘off-the-rack’…especially when it comes to travel.
(All public information so far – just don’t let what follows get out to my Boomer friends – I’d be labeled a turncoat, a whistleblower… chipped at mercilessly at the next Senior Day Pitch & Putt. Oh, the horror!)
What my peers are reluctant to admit is that an overlooked disease is reaching epidemic proportions in our age group. It is a condition called Boomer Nostalgia…or ‘Boomer-Stalia’ for short. Some bright bulb in the travel industry even came up with a name to identify this market – “Heritage Tourism.” I just call it “BS.”
BS manifests as a deep longing to reconnect with free spirits of the past…to relive freewheeling days of youth…an irresistible urge to get in touch with old flames, friends, school mates and personalities of decades ago. Social media marketers are shamelessly exploiting this compulsion. So why shouldn’t travel agents?
Once reconnected with an old flame or friend online, one Boomer or the other will inevitably suggest a face to face meeting. Naturally airfare, hotel and car rental will be needed.
As the Traveling Boomer’s (TB) agent, you begin by subtly leveraging the need for customization. Start by familiarizing your new client with the three rules for a Reconnection of Older Boomers (ROB):
#1 – Even if one has all the time in the world and oodles of money, under no circumstances does one want to appear to be making a major trek across the continent just to see how well an old flame has aged. (Cover would be provided by including a nearby attraction in the itinerary. “I just happened to be in the area and…”)
#2 – For most Boomers image is everything. Therefore, auto rental must be a Town Car from Hertz rather than the usual Escort from Alamo.
#3 – Planning must be with military-like precision. Like Special Forces inserted behind enemy lines, always have a quick extraction plan should things get uncomfortable.
Let the TB know you “have their back.” Set up a real-time alert system for a developing awkward situation. This could be done by tapping pre-arranged codes on a smartphone. (Discreetly, in one’s pocket or purse…or during one of those all-too-frequent bathroom breaks.)
Likely Situations & Remedies –
Situation 1 – The TB is shocked to find that his/her old college roommate, sweetheart or drinking buddy has become quite successful, having accumulated significant wealth. Consequently, the TB is overcome with feelings of inadequacy.
Remedy – A pre-arranged signal generates a cell phone call – a video call if TB’s smart phone supports it – from the “Investment Advisor.” The Visited Boomer (VB) overhears…”Ok, Warren, we’ll buy a couple million shares of ‘Berkshire Class A’ now…with an option on a million more.”
Situation 2 – Sadly, the VB has not done so well. The meeting becomes a pity party, morphing into a subtle game of one-upmanship over who has had the toughest luck in life.
Remedy – A pre-arranged signal generates a call for the TB from a collection agency.
Situation 3 – The TB’s old friend asks to borrow money…a particularly tricky situation.
Remedy – TB responds, “No problem. I’ll just swipe my smart phone’s credit card app over your bar code reader. You do have one, don’t you?” (Transmitting the code for a Situation 2 helps with this one as well.)
Situation 4 – The TB discovers that their old friend has done time in the slammer, developed a tough-as-nails attitude and wants to play “who’s the Biggest Badass?”
Remedy – A pre-arranged signal generates a call from the TB’s Parole Officer.
Take it to the Bank –
Are you beginning to grasp the scope of this opportunity? This goes far beyond just booking travel. You become the indispensable Puppet Master and Contingency Expert, empowering your Traveling Boomer to confidently pursue all Reconnection Fantasies (RF’s) no matter how wild or irrational. Talk about generating loyalty! Repeat business is guaranteed.
Your success acronyms for today: BS + ROB + RF = TBs x infinity
– Lyn Edwin Cathey, ROTFL