Gray is the New Green Part 9: The Luxury Boomer

I have written on this topic since August of last year, but as the grand horde of boomers among us continues to gradually work their way into retirement, this topic is once again worth addressing. Normally when we discuss retirement, we talk about the nuances of balancing a tighter budget with far fewer inbound monetary streams to buoy any excessive spending. In short, retirement at a macro level means less spending overall.

However, the baby boom presents a fascinating counterargument to this established demographic trend. That is, the boomers (at least in a North American sense) came into the world right at the zenith of American corporate hegemony, meaning that the salaries, stipends, bonuses and pensions accrued are greater on average than that doled out to those members of the Greatest Generation or Gen X. In many cases, what we are left with is a retired boomer who – even after paying the full load of the son or daughter’s college tuitions and putting up the capital for said kid to move out of the basement – still has the dispensable funds for self-discovery.

This ‘luxury boomer’ or ‘one-percenter’ populace is rife with retired or semi-retired individuals in search of all the same brand qualities that appeal to wealthy Gen Xers or millennials. Moreover, their ample cash has afforded them the time and money to keep in touch with technology, meaning that said boomers are frequently proficient with smartphones, tablets, social media and any other popular tech lingo. As well, you must take into account the idea of an increased ‘healthspan’ relative to the rest of the population. That is, with surplus cash has come the ability to seek out healthier lifestyle options, meaning that overall wellness increases even as one ages.

All told, the luxury boomer is an individual undergoing a renaissance of sorts with the vigor, means and desire for a bolder hotel experience. Such people are looking for self-discovery, which, if you recall your Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, correlates to self-actualization phase at the top of the pyramid. Hence, I’d call boomer-appealing lifestyle brands to be ‘self-actualization brands’ as this term gives a better hint at what this demographic craves.

In fact, there are already quite a few brand entrants capitalizing on the notions of lifestyle and boutique hospitality with specific features and services to attract members of the luxury boomer class. Such titillating service features broadly pertain to personalization, surprise, flexibility and integrated activities.

In essence, the objective for luxury boomers is to create a sense of royalty. They are looking to bring home an experience – bragging rights so to speak. However, discussing this in a general sense won’t really give you a definitive clue as to what these one-percenters are after, so here are some specifics to get you started:

  • Functional concierge; adept at swiftly arranging for tickets, transportation, reservations or access any other trendy locale
  • Access to excellent food; taste and smells are two senses that can also deliver exceptional experiences so be sure to have great in-house food offerings as well as a handy mental rolodex of the newest Michelin-rated eateries or local joints with niche, esoteric or quintessential-of-a-certain-nationality cuisine
  • Private tours; still wanting to see the most popular tourist attractions but wanting to do so in style and at the beat of their own drum
  • Late checkout and early check-in; guests will appreciate your efforts to accommodate their idiosyncratic travel schedules, especially with concern to long transcontinental flights whereby one gets to the airport at 7pm and doesn’t arrive at the hotel until 10am the following day (read: grumpy and in need of a clean bed)
  • Free high speed internet; no one likes to be nickeled and dimed, not even the wealthy
  • Welcome or departure gifts; this falls under the purview of ‘surprise’ whereby you are exceeding expectations and creating another point of interaction with the brand
  • Shopping; this activity can be enhanced through a designated shopping concierge, improving relationships with local vendors, in-room samples, guidebooks or a host of other methods, all aimed at increasing the accessibility to local wares
  • Where everybody knows your name; isn’t it always nice to return to your hotel and not only are the staff members friendly but they know a little bit about you and your purpose of travel?

(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, originally published in Hotels Magazine on January 20, 2015)


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