Times Are Changing: Here’s How DMOs Can Respond to America’s Changing Demographic Make-Up

March 27, 2018

In just over a decade, the U.S. population will be drastically transformed, according  to newly released data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Over the course of the 2030s, the population will become older and more racially and ethnically diverse. By 2030, the last of the baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) will have turned 65, and 1 in every 5 U.S. residents will be of retirement age —older people will outnumber children for the first time in America’s history.  Additionally, immigration will become the primary driver of population growth in the United States, another demographic first. The fastest-growing segments of the population will be Latinos, Asians and people whose heritage includes two or more races.

These changing demographics offer opportunities for destinations looking to increase visitor arrivals. Here are four ways to capitalize on these opportunities.

1. Make A Push to Land on the Boomers’ Bucket List: After years of being in the workforce, many baby boomers (38 percent) say they have created a bucket list of travel experiences they hope to embark upon after retirement, according to an AARP survey of nearly 900 baby boomers. Freed from the burden of cramming vacations into weekends or limited time-off, boomers can and want to travel more in their retirement years. Making sure your destination is top of mind and at the top of the boomer bucket list now will pay off as more baby boomers retire.

2. Remember That Grandparents Will “Pay to Play”: Regardless of race or ethnicity, multigenerational travel continues to gain in popularity, and destinations must keep in mind that family packages shouldn’t be “one size fits all.” The nuclear family is not the only type of family that travels, and grandparents, more so than parents, are inclined to pay for multigenerational trips to help family members enjoy a vacation they otherwise could not afford. Offering activities and amenities that appeal to a range of age groups and emphasizing that your destination will create lasting memories will help attract this travel segment.

3. Say Bienvenidos! The Latino population in the United States reached nearly 58 million in 2016 and has been the principal driver of U.S. demographic growth, accounting for half of the nation’s population growth since 2000. A growing share of Hispanics have gone to college and, more important, the number of Hispanics who speak Spanish at home is at an all-time high, according to the Pew Research Center. In order to stand out among this growing audience, destinations should consider developing marketing materials in Spanish, engaging with Latino digital influencers and targeting outlets and journalists with well-established connections and content that resonates with this audience.

4. Promote Inclusivity: While Latinos will be a significant contributor to population growth, don’t ignore other racial and ethnic groups. Messages of inclusivity will attract not only your targeted domestic ethnic groups but international travelers as well.

Staying abreast of projected demographic trends allows destinations to tailor their messaging based on these new audiences. Appealing to these growing audiences early and often through targeted messaging is critical to driving increased visits to your destination as the demographic profile of the U.S. traveler continues to evolve.

How does your destination monitor demographic trends and strategically plan for the changes they represent? Tweet us at @aboutdci.com!

Robyn Domber

Written by Robyn Domber

Robyn is DCI’s Vice President of Research. In this role, she spearheads all of the firm’s primary and secondary research efforts, including surveys, focus groups, data analysis and result compilation. She joined DCI with 15 years of experience in the site selection and economic development consulting field.

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