Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Adventure Travel and Culture Cruises

Silversea Cruises, an ultra-luxury cruise line based out of Monaco, reports record growth in the number of passengers who have never before sailed with the line – a phenomenon the company attributes to its aggressive marketing to the “lucrative Baby Boomer market.”

While most marketers look upon baby boomers as a maturing market, the age cohort represents a “youth” market compared to the older demographic that traditionally has dominated the business. “We’re encouraging our travel agency partners to check their preconceptions at the door,” said David Morris, Silversea’s executive vice president of worldwide sales. “Younger people have the money and time to travel.”

(We like that. The last time anyone referred to us as a “young” person, we were talking to our 79-year-old step mother.)

As the Boomers displace the GI generation and the silent generation from the luxury liner suites, their tastes are driving tremendous changes. “According to many cruise line executives this one group of guests has probably created more changes in cruise ship programming than any other travelers since Noah's Ark,”writes Joseph Ewart, editor of www.cruisejungle.com.

Ewart quotes Dan Hanrahan, chairman of Cruise Lines International Association, as observing that Baby Boomers tend to collect experiences as they get older as opposed to physical possessions. Out goes Bingo, in come computer classes. Out go the bus tours, in come river-rafting expeditions and bicycle jaunts down the side of a volcano.

The industry also is tacking away from formal dining rooms with early and late seating times in favor of smaller restaurants in alternative settings that serve meals according to more flexible schedules. For entertainment, cruise lines are lining up more acts geared to Boomer tastes such as jazz, blues and rock ‘n’ roll. Spas are offering exotic amenities such as Thalassotherapy pools and hot stone massages. And an increasing square footage of prime, ocean-view space is being dedicated to weight machines and elipticals.

Silverseas’ HSH Prince Albert II, one of four vessels in the company’s fleet, appears to be built from the keel up with Baby Boomers and their cosmopolitan European counterparts in mind. Billing the vessel as geared to “adventure travel,” Silverseas has equipped the ship to take passengers to “some of the world’s most remote landscapes.”

“The interest in expedition travel is definitely on the rise, both among affluent baby boomers and seasoned travelers wanting to further enrich their already wide knowledge of more traditional and established destinations,” says Asiatraveltips.com.

The website quotes Silversea President Amerigo Perasso: "Adventure travel is also about having experiences that are intellectually enriching, so every voyage will feature a carefully selected expedition team of lecturers and leading experts who will share their insights on the natural, cultural and historical highlights of some of the most pristine and secluded regions on Earth."

As a sign of the times, Silversea has appointed a “director of expeditions” with responsibility, among other things, of recruiting expedition “lecturers” to cater the knowledge-thirsty Boomers.

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Valuable Insights into the Hearts, Minds and Wallets of Today's Baby Boomers

This blog is by the authors of Boomer Consumer: Ten New Rules for Marketing to America's Largest, Wealthiest and Most Influential Group, on sale now.

Here is where you'll find information referenced in the book, as well as updates, news and perspectives from Matt Thornhill and John Martin, founders of the Boomer Project.