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Not All Brands Need to Aim Young

There are two words I have come to hate as a business traveler: "younger demo."
It seems the entire advertising community is out there in the obsessive pursuit of that elusive younger demographic, especially the under-30 crowd. In my opinion, it's a failed policy, on numerous levels:
  • The younger demo aren't the real road warriors:
  • They aren't spending big money.
  • They aren't decision makers.
  • When it comes to leisure travel, the younger demo may be wishing for an upgrade, but the boomer business traveler gets it.
Boomer business travelers have the time, the money and the inclination to actively pursue and reach their goals. Yet the average age of the media buyers at advertising agencies is 25, and they think the sun rises and sets with people in their 20s.

How many major hotels that should be catering to business travelers have opted for the younger demo? Lobbies look like Las Vegas lounges and staffers look like escapees from a Robert Palmer video. Style takes precedence over substance, and the boomer business traveler leaves, never to return.

Too cool for school often translates to too cool for real business.

So I'm honored to be on the same lineup today, as executives from Google, Hilton, Virgin America, and others as we discuss the power of the 50+ audience at a major branding conference in New York. AARP (and as many of you might know, I am their Travel Ambassador), in collaboration with Advertising Age and Google, is hosting "AdVantage: The 50-Plus Individual. How to better serve, inform and engage Americans 50+," in a special one-day conference in New York on April 5.

I will be moderating the panel on travel, which will include top executives from Hilton, the CEO of Virgin America, David Cush, and the CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, Kevin Sheehan. We will discuss the enormous buying power and impact of the boomer business traveler.

Maybe, just maybe, the travel industry will begin to realize that the 50-plus business travelers -- the real road warriors -- need to be heard. And yes, maybe a little coddled as well.

What changes do you think the hospitality industry needs to make to appeal to the boomer traveler?

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Photo credit: R Stanek
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