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Baby Boomer travellers ignoring print as online and word of mouth dominates, survey finds

The bumper travel supplements in Australia’s weekend newspapers are being largely ignored by Baby Boomers both as a means of research and for influencing their holiday decisions, a Mumbrella-commissioned survey has found.

The data – which is likely to surprise many travel brands – shows an older demographic which is turning its back on print in favour of the web and word of mouth recommendations.

Print has long been regarded by the travel industry as fertile ground for reaching and influencing baby boomer travellers.

Research carried out for Mumbrella by leading online retirement platform YourLifeChoices found three quarters of the more than 6,000 respondents – 70% of whom were aged between 50 and 70 – head online when they first begin planning a holiday. Just 9% visit their travel agent, 7% use guide books, and only 3.5% turn to newspapers as their first port of call.

Furthermore, asked what most influences their travel decisions, less than 5% said travel editorial, behind advertising with 12% and online travel reviews on 27%. Almost 40% said personal word of mouth recommendation was the biggest influence.

YourLifeChoices publisher Kaye Fallick, who will exclusively reveal the extensive research at next week’s Mumbrella Travel Marketing Summit, said the findings appeared to question the value of earned media.

“Traditionally we had two levels of storytelling. Editorial was pure gold and advertising less ‘credible’ but supported editorial mentions,” Fallick said. “The hierarchy has changed. Word of mouth is best, travel reviews second, advertising third and editorial a very poor last.

“Does this now throw into question PR assumptions regarding earned advertising value?”

Of the fading role of newspapers as a first point for research, Fallick added: “One still hears at agency level that older people are starting to use digital sources but they are much further down the track than most marketers give them credit for.”

The study also found that advertisers often don’t understand the needs of the Baby Boomer generation with 70% of respondents saying brands only “sometimes” get it right.

Research to be revealed at the summit next week includes data on the value and trust of online travel reviews, how Baby Boomers view celebrity and influencer endorsements, their use of mobile and the role of TV advertising.

The Mumbrella Travel Marketing Summit takes place at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney on April 5 with speakers including Virgin Australia chief marketing officer Inese Kingsmill, Expedia global senior VP, Media Solutions Team Noah Tratt and Qantas head of digital and entertainment Kristin Carlos.

To secure one of the last remaining tickets click here.

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