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Tourism Marketing: Different Strokes For Different Folks


When marketing tourism, age matters, expert says

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May 14, 2008

One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to marketing tourism destinations to people of different ages.

"If you get a one-size-fits-all message, do you respond?" travel consultant Bill Geist asked rhetorically in a Utah Tourism Conference workshop Tuesday on multigenerational marketing. The answer to his question being "no," he said sweeping generalizations fail because they leave message recipients feeling ignored.

"We all want to be important," Geist added. "We respond to ads that speak [individually] to us."

So once a tourist destination determines who it wants to attract, it should make sure the approach and images used in promotional campaigns resonate with the target audience.

Want to hit it big with retirees in their mid-60s and up? Know that these folks' roots go back to World War II, that they respect stability and honor as exemplified by war-hero general and president Dwight Eisenhower.

"They respond to [themes of] a job well done and a life well lived," Geist said, adding that they tend to like package deals that say, "If you come, this is your reward - a fabulous trip to our state."

The baby boomer generation rejected many of the sacrifices that defined the lives of their parents, finding more importance in self-expression than the collective good, but also getting caught up in overworking in their effort to acquire the good things in life.

"There's a rebelliousness that sticks with us today," Geist said, contending that boomers do not respond to pictures of people their own age as much as they do to pictures of people in their mid-30s - because most feel young and can't believe they are as old as they are.

Geist said it is best to break this generation into two groups. While boomers with children at home remain preoccupied with being part of their kids' lives, "empty nest" boomers are more like members of the younger Generation X (ages 28-43), who are interested in friends and having fun because growing up through recessions, massive corporate layoffs and the Monica Lewinsky scandal has left them skeptical of authority.

No wonder, Geist said, that this age group relates so well to "The X Files" television program, in which everything is hard to believe.

The generation he calls Millennials, the children of boomers, have been shaped by the response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, developing a respect for heroes and generally being more patriotic than their elders.

Their goals are to be rich, famous and to save the world, which they believe they can accomplish.

"Since the moment they were born, they felt sought after and put on a pedestal" by parents willing to drive them wherever they need to go. "They believe people like them, anyone off the street, could be an 'American Idol,' " Geist said.
mikeg@sltrib.com

Connecting with audiences

Travel market consultant Bill Geist contends destinations get better results if they know their target generations:

* Mature (63+): Looking for value, quality and rewards for hard work. Respond to authority, celebrities, respected institutions.

* Boomers (44-62): Looking for "The Easy Button." Respond to anything that makes them feel young.

* Gen X (28-43): Looking for recognition as individuals. Respond to straightforward offers with no hype.

* Millennials (8-27): Looking for brands that resonate with their peers. Respond to quirky humor and YouTube.

sltrib.com

When marketing tourism, age matters, expert says
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