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UK The Over-55 Traveler Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the The Over-55 Traveller market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

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Covered in this report

The total number of holidays taken by over-55s in the UK and abroad in 2018 reached a record level of 34 million. Expenditure reached £16.2 billion (not including spending on overseas transport). Over-55s accounted for 32% of all holidays taken and 35% of all holiday expenditure in 2018.

Travel features high in the over-55 bucket-list of future life priorities. Over-55s own a growing share of the nation’s wealth. Demographic change guarantees an expanding pool of potential customers. Over-55s are seeking to stay younger and fitter for longer and to make the most of their years ahead. Rising longevity will also drive demand for supported forms of travel amongst the elderly, including those with disabilities and dementia.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by John Worthington, a leading analyst in the Travel sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The space between the kids leaving home and the onset of ‘old age’ is widening. For those with the resources to enjoy it this is a golden time for travel. Competition for the silver pound is set to be intense. Digital research and online booking are becoming the norm amongst this group, but the trusted advice of their well-travelled peers is paramount John Worthington
Senior Travel Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Over-55s account for 35% of all holiday spending
              • Figure 1: Total over-55 holiday volume forecast, 2014-24
              • Figure 2: Total over-55 holiday value* forecast, 2014-24
            • Companies and brands
              • Change of focus for Saga
                • Escorted touring brands attracting investment
                  • Half of cruise customers are over 60
                    • Solo traveller specialists
                      • Silver Travel Advisor has identified a gap in the market
                        • The consumer
                          • Travel is one of the highest priorities for over-55s
                            • Figure 3: Future priorities of over-55s, August 2019
                          • Seaside holidays and city breaks are most popular but cruises have highest growth potential
                            • Figure 4: Future interest in types of holiday versus types of holiday taken in the past three years, August 2019
                          • Storehouse of travel knowledge
                            • Figure 5: Sources of ideas for holidays used by over-55s, August 2019
                          • Online is now biggest booking channel even amongst over-75s
                            • Figure 6: Holiday booking channels used by over-55s, August 2019
                          • R&R, sightseeing and high standard of accommodation are most important factors
                            • Figure 7: Important holiday factors for over-55s, August 2019
                          • One in seven over-55s regularly take their grandchildren on holiday
                            • Figure 8: Holiday behaviours and preferences for over-55s, August 2019
                          • Carpe diem
                            • Figure 9: Holiday intentions and interests of over-55s, August 2019
                          • What we think
                          • Issues and Insights

                            • Pre-retirement is a key time for travel planning
                              • The facts
                                • The implications
                                  • Holidays will increasingly be used to combat social isolation
                                    • The facts
                                      • The implications
                                        • Specialist over-55 travel shops
                                          • The facts
                                            • The implications
                                              • Longevity breaks
                                                • The facts
                                                  • The implications
                                                    • Retro holidays
                                                      • The facts
                                                        • The implications
                                                        • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                          • Over-55 domestic breaks have risen for five years in a row
                                                            • Over-55 spend on trips abroad has increased at twice the market average since 2014
                                                              • Package preference rises amongst over-65s
                                                                • 35% of over-55 travellers abroad visit Spain
                                                                  • Demographic pool is growing fast
                                                                    • High priority given to travel
                                                                      • One in five over-65s have £1 million+ total wealth
                                                                      • Market Size and Forecast

                                                                        • Over-55 holiday market worth £16 billion (excluding overseas transport)
                                                                          • Figure 10: Total holidays taken by over-55s, by volume and value, 2014-24
                                                                        • Over-55 domestic breaks have grown for past five years
                                                                          • Figure 11: Domestic holidays taken by over-55s, by volume and value, 2014-24
                                                                        • Average overseas spend increase by over-55s double the average since 2014
                                                                          • Figure 12: Overseas holidays taken by over-55s, by volume and value, 2014-24
                                                                          • Figure 13: Holidays taken by over-55s as a percentage of all domestic and overseas holidays, by volume and value, 2014-18
                                                                        • Forecast
                                                                          • Total market
                                                                            • Figure 14: Total over-55 holiday volume forecast, 2014-24
                                                                            • Figure 15: Total over-55 holiday value* forecast, 2014-24
                                                                          • Domestic market
                                                                            • Figure 16: Domestic over-55 holiday volume forecast, 2014-24
                                                                            • Figure 17: Domestic over-55 holiday value* forecast, 2014-24
                                                                          • Overseas market
                                                                            • Figure 18: Overseas over-55 holiday volume forecast, 2014-24
                                                                            • Figure 19: Overseas over-55 holiday value* forecast, 2014-24
                                                                          • Forecast methodology
                                                                          • Market Segmentation

                                                                            • Over-55s taking more UK breaks but spending less…
                                                                              • Figure 20: Domestic holidays taken by 55-64 and 65+ age groups, by volume and value, 2014-18
                                                                            • …but over-55 spending abroad has increased
                                                                              • Figure 21: Overseas holidays taken by 55-64 and 65+ age groups, by volume and value, 2014-18
                                                                              • Figure 22: Average spend on domestic and overseas holidays by age group, 2018
                                                                            • South West is top UK holiday choice for over-55s
                                                                              • Figure 23: Domestic holiday destinations by volume visited by over-55s versus all holidaymakers, 2018
                                                                            • Over-65s stay longer
                                                                              • Figure 24: Domestic holiday volumes taken by over-55s versus all holidaymakers, by duration, 2018
                                                                            • Over-55s more likely than average to visit Spain
                                                                              • Figure 25: Overseas holiday volumes taken by over-55s versus all holidaymakers, by short-haul and long-haul destinations, 2018
                                                                              • Figure 26: Top 10 overseas short-haul holiday destinations by volume visited by over-55s versus all holidaymakers, 2018
                                                                            • Long-haul escorted touring trend
                                                                              • Figure 27: Top 10 overseas long-haul holiday destinations by volume visited by over-55s versus all holidaymakers, 2018
                                                                            • Package booking is higher amongst over-55s
                                                                              • Figure 28: Overseas holiday volumes taken by over-55s versus all holidaymakers, by package versus independently booked, 2018
                                                                            • Almost half of over-55 holidays abroad are longer than a week
                                                                              • Figure 29: Overseas holiday volumes taken by over-55s versus all holidaymakers, by duration, 2018
                                                                            • One in five over-65s going abroad choose not to fly
                                                                              • Figure 30: Overseas holiday volumes taken by over-55s versus all holidaymakers, by mode of travel, 2018
                                                                            • April-June is the most popular period for over-55 holidays abroad
                                                                              • Figure 31: Overseas holiday volumes taken by over-55s versus all holidaymakers, by season of travel, 2018
                                                                          • Market Background

                                                                            • UK economy still in growth but shoppers growing more cautious
                                                                              • Figure 32: UK average weekly earnings (excluding bonuses)* vs CPI inflation, percentage change year on year, January 2017-August 2019
                                                                            • Pound hits new wave of volatility as Brexit deadline approaches
                                                                              • Figure 33: Pound versus euro exchange rate, June 2016-September 2019
                                                                            • Domestic tourism volumes up 3% in first half of 2019 but spending drops
                                                                              • Figure 34: Trends in the number and value of domestic holidays taken by UK residents, 2014-18
                                                                            • 2019 likely to see overseas holidays dip after record year in 2018
                                                                              • Cook’s collapse sends shock waves across travel industry
                                                                                • Figure 35: Trends in the number and value of overseas holidays taken by UK residents, 2014-18
                                                                              • An ageing population offers huge travel opportunities
                                                                                • Figure 36: Trends in the age structure of the UK population, by gender, 2013-23
                                                                                • Figure 37: Long-term projections in the age structure of the UK population, by gender, 2016-41
                                                                              • Silver solos
                                                                                • Figure 38: One-person households, by age, UK, 2007-17
                                                                              • Travel is a high priority for over-55s
                                                                                • Figure 39: Future priorities of over-55s, August 2019
                                                                              • Generational wealth gap has widened
                                                                                • Figure 40: Percentage household total wealth* by age group, July 2006 to June 2008
                                                                                • Figure 41: Percentage household total wealth* by age group, July 2014 to June 2016
                                                                              • A time-limited opportunity
                                                                                • Not everyone in over-55 group is well off
                                                                                  • 72% of 55-64s and 51% of 65-74s are on social media
                                                                                    • Figure 42: Internet use in the last three months, 2014-18
                                                                                • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                  • New Saga strategy
                                                                                    • Escorted tours growing in diversity
                                                                                      • Three quarters of cruise passengers are over 50
                                                                                        • Single traveller specialists
                                                                                          • Silver information
                                                                                            • Warner targets active over-50s
                                                                                              • Disability holidays
                                                                                              • Companies and Brands

                                                                                                  • Saga Holidays
                                                                                                    • Escorted touring
                                                                                                      • Cruise
                                                                                                        • Mature solos
                                                                                                          • Silver Travel Advisor
                                                                                                            • Warner Leisure Hotels
                                                                                                              • Accessible travel
                                                                                                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                • Seaside, city breaks, cottages and touring holidays are the most popular trips
                                                                                                                  • Personal recommendation is the leading source of holiday ideas
                                                                                                                    • Six in 10 over-55s book online
                                                                                                                      • Over-55s seek R&R but are less fly-and-flop than younger groups
                                                                                                                        • Exploration plus comfort
                                                                                                                          • Multigenerational trips
                                                                                                                            • See the world
                                                                                                                            • Over-55 Holiday Taking & Future Interest

                                                                                                                              • Over three quarters of over-55s take holidays
                                                                                                                                • Figure 43: Types of holiday taken in the past three years by over-55s, August 2019
                                                                                                                              • Healthy holidays
                                                                                                                                • Cottages, country hotels and cruises have broadest age appeal to older travellers
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 44: Types of holiday taken in the past three years by over-55 age segments, August 2019
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 45: Types of holiday taken in the past three years by life stage segments, August 2019
                                                                                                                                • Older singles are twice as likely not to take holidays as couples
                                                                                                                                  • Escorted tours and river cruises lead the way in attracting solos but sea cruises are falling behind
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 46: Types of holiday taken in the past three years by marital status, August 2019
                                                                                                                                  • Cruise shows highest future growth prospects
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 47: Future interest in types of holiday versus types of holiday taken in the past three years, August 2019
                                                                                                                                  • Over-55 Holiday Inspiration

                                                                                                                                    • Peer knowledge is the greatest source of travel ideas for over-55s
                                                                                                                                      • Travel shops are under-used as an information resource
                                                                                                                                        • Half of over-55s use online sources for ideas
                                                                                                                                          • Still a place for brochures
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 48: Sources of ideas for holidays used by over-55s, August 2019
                                                                                                                                          • Few over-55s cite social media as an inspiration for travel ideas
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 49: Sources of ideas for holidays used by over-55 age segments, August 2019
                                                                                                                                        • Over-55 Holiday Booking

                                                                                                                                          • Online is now the dominant booking channel for over-55s
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 50: Holiday booking channels used by over-55s, August 2019
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 51: Holiday booking channels used by over-55 age segments, August 2019
                                                                                                                                          • Package versus independent booking
                                                                                                                                            • Importance of expertise
                                                                                                                                              • Previous experience is the key factor when booking
                                                                                                                                              • Over-55 Important Holiday Factors

                                                                                                                                                • R&R-plus and flashpackers
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 52: Important holiday factors for over-55s, August 2019
                                                                                                                                                • Cultural discovery and wellness are important for 55-64s
                                                                                                                                                  • Meeting new people important for over-75s and singles
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 53: Important holiday factors by over-55 age segments, August 2019
                                                                                                                                                  • Simple pleasures grow in importance
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 54: Most important holiday factors, by age group, June 2015
                                                                                                                                                • Over-55 Holiday Behaviours

                                                                                                                                                  • Generational mix
                                                                                                                                                    • Travelling back in time
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 55: Holiday behaviours and preferences for over-55s, August 2019
                                                                                                                                                    • Everything taken care of
                                                                                                                                                      • Aviation avoiders
                                                                                                                                                      • Over-55 Holiday Opportunities

                                                                                                                                                        • Seize the day
                                                                                                                                                          • Once in a lifetime holiday planners
                                                                                                                                                            • Tailor-made opportunity
                                                                                                                                                              • Winter escapees
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 56: Holiday intentions and interests of over-55s, August 2019
                                                                                                                                                              • Specialist over-50s brand potential
                                                                                                                                                                • Singles interest
                                                                                                                                                                  • Putting something back
                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                    • Definitions
                                                                                                                                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                        • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                                                          • Domestic
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 57: Domestic holidays taken by over-55s, volume forecast, 2019-24
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 58: Domestic holidays taken by over-55s, value* forecast, 2019-24
                                                                                                                                                                          • Overseas
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 59: Overseas holidays taken by over-55s, volume forecast, 2019-24
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 60: Overseas holidays taken by over-55s, value* forecast, 2019-24
                                                                                                                                                                          • Forecast methodology