This will lead to a tremendous increase in the number of people belonging to this segment, which will require more attention from travel businesses.
Regarding financial power, the mature segment has a very strong, healthy, and sustained position. Furthermore, the mature traveler group presents the highest net worth of all age groups. The stability of their income is also due to the fact that they do not have to support the cost of setting up a household or of raising children. In addition to this, this segment has the lowest consumer debt compared to all the other segments. The availability of their income goes hand in hand with the availability of their time, which allows them to have more leisure time that can be used for traveling than other segments of the travel market (TIA, 2000).
In the past 15 years, the mature segment of the travel market in the United States was not characterized by significant changes in trends. The fact that the majority of trips taken by mature travelers consist in pleasure trips by auto has not changed since 1994, comes to support this statement. The lodging habits of mature traveler are also quite constant. Therefore, 50% of mature travelers lodge themselves in hotels, motels, or bed and breakfast establishments, while 40% of them opt for the homes of the friends or relatives they are visiting. Obviously, this aspect is related to the purpose and possibilities of the respective trip.
However, this market segment is characterized by significant changes regarding the demographic profile. Therefore, one may notice increases in the number of trips taken by mature travelers with a college degree and with an annual income of $75,000 or more. Nowadays mature travelers are more technologically oriented than they were a decade ago.
Currently, mature travelers account for approximately 31% of all domestic trips, the largest share that any of the travel market's segments have. Also, trips taken by mature travelers are the most likely to be for pleasure and to include a car or track as a mean of transportation.
Regarding the length of mature traveler trips, they are less likely to involve overnight stay. However, in case such a situation occurs, the average length for a trip is a day longer than trips taken by other segments of travelers. As mentioned above, most of the longest lasting trips are taken by mature travelers. Mature travelers spend more on their trips, given the fact that approximately half of them lodge themselves in hotels, motels, or bed and breakfast establishments, rather than lodging to the houses of friends or relatives.
The favorite trip activity for mature travelers is shopping. This activity is preferred by 30% of mature travelers. Aside from this activity, mature travelers are oriented towards visiting historical places or museums, attending cultural events and festivals, gambling, and outdoor activities.
However, there are slight dissimilarities between the two subdivisions of the mature travelers segment: Junior matures and Senior matures. Junior matures account for 15% of the total of U.S. domestic trips, reaching a number of 86.2 million. Senior matures account for 16% of the total of U.S. domestic trips, reaching a number of 92.6 million.
Senior matures travelers' trips are more likely to be directed towards pleasure purposes, because they are retired and have more leisure time to spend. Most of Junior matures travelers are still employed, which means their trips are more likely to be oriented towards business purposes, and are more likely to be by air, and to include a rental car as a supplementary mode of transportation.
The average trip spending by Junior matures is higher than that of Senior matures. Also, Junior matures are more likely to include shopping, outdoor activities, nightlife activities, and visits to theme or amusement parks in their trips. Instead, Senior matures are more likely to include visits to historical place or museums, attending cultural events and festivals, and group tours in their trips.
2.4. Silver Tourism Future Trends
It is expected that the mature traveler segment of the U.S. travel market will continue to expand in all directions. As a consequence, the volume registered by this segment will continue to increase, and so will the number of trips.
These future estimated increases are due to the fact that more and more Baby Boomers now turn 55 or more, which qualifies them as mature travelers. This means that there will be an infusion of silver consumers, in all economic areas, especially regarding tourism and travel activities.
However, it seems that marketers did not take into consideration this market segment as seriously as they should have, since "as boomer gallop through their 60th birthdays with hardly a backward glance, the market simply has not spent enough effort in meeting or even imagining the wants and needs of those already in their 60s, 70s, and beyond-while the ranks of these mature adults are swelling into unheard-of numbers" (Report Buyer, 2007).
United States' travel market is continually expanding, significantly increasing its volume. Certain travel market segments experience important increases, while other segments are stagnating or decreasing.
One of the most important travel market segments is the mature segment, comprising individuals over 55 years of age. This is the most stable of all segments discussed in the previous pages. Even more, it presents serious opportunities for expansion and development.
The mature segment is characterized by great financial stability. Also, this segment presents the highest availability of time, which, combined with the financial availability, make of mature travelers the most stable and probably the most important segment of the travel market. It is recommended to take advantage of the growth opportunities presented by this segment in the current and future periods of time.…