The just-released AITO Travel Insights 2020 report listing the top ten most popular long-haul destinations of its customers places North America at the top of the list. This is welcome news to the international inbound travel trade in the United States, particularly for those who book senior travel, because the finding is based on a survey of 26,406 customers who are predominantly in the 50-70 age group.
AITO is the short name for the Specialist Travel Association (it used to be the Association of Independent Tour Operators), a British industry trade group that represents around 120 specialist and independent tour operators.
The Top Ten regional destinations favored by AITO’s customers are as follows:
According to survey respondents, North America’s appeal lies in its diversity of landscapes and cultures, as well as opportunities for gastronomy tourism and shopping sprees.
Understandably, the Travel Insights 2020 report’s results read like a bit of a marketing document, since the distribution structure for selling travel in the UK still depends heavily on traditional travel agencies and tour operators for product.
According to the report:
—90 percent of clients who booked with an AITO operator would do so again
—96 percent or survey of respondents would recommend their company to a friend, family or colleague.
—Of those aged 50 to 70 years, 60 percent said expertise and specialism was more important to them than other factors.
During a panel discussion at which the report was released, Tom Dunn, director of digital design at digital agency Wild Dog Design, said: “These are astonishing levels of retention.”
As reported by Travel Weekly UK, Roy Barker, director of marketing company Spike, which analyzed the survey data for the report, said: “Social media is important but email is crucial in terms of how customers want to be kept in touch – [they want] personalized emails that appear to reinforce the customer service they get from a specialist operator rather than blanket communications.”
He also noted that AITO companies were well-placed to take advantage of the “bulge” of 47-65-year-olds in the current UK population. There are currently 17.3 million 47-to-65-year-olds in the market, compared with 14 million 28-to-46-year-olds, due to a fall in the birth rate. All totaled, 75 percent of the total wealth of the country is owned by people aged 45 to 74, said Barker, adding, “the population bulge will work in favor of specialist operators,” he said.