The Boomers are COMING. They are coming. As a cohort they are 78 million people strong and spend an estimated $2.3 trillion per year on consumer goods and services. Most important, they’re turning 60 at the rate of one every seven seconds, driving the greatest Old Age Boom ever known.
But don’t even think about calling them Senior Citizens.
Baby Boomers, no surprise, do not plan “to go gently into that Good Night” of retirement living and senior citizenship. Just like they redefined coming to age in the sixty’s, they are aging on their own terms. So if you’re a provider of goods and services marketed towards “seniors” or “elders”, watch out.
Elderhostel, a nonprofit lifetime learning organization that has been providing a wonderful travel experience for older people for more than 30 years, is taking this advice to heart. As Elderhostel President James Moses told NPR:
“If you don’t appeal to the baby boomers, you’re pretty much done,” Moses said. “I mean — let’s face it.”
In response to fears that Baby Boomers will be turned off by its old name, Elderhostel is rebranding itself as “Exploritas,” and is welcoming lifelong learners of all ages. It’s a major change for such a successful, established brand, and has garnered a lot of buzz.
And a bit of blowback.
It seems some Elderhostel regulars are not so jazzed about the possibility of sharing their hostel experience with college kids on Spring Break, as NPR reported. One participant called it “nuts.” Another regular, a woman after my own heart, offered this response:
“If the younger ones came with us, they could carry our bags,” she said.
Moses published this open letter to debunk fears that Elderhostel would begin marketing to 20- and 30-year-olds. He says Elderhostel has been, and Exploritas will continue to be “a program created for and attractive to older, primarily retired adults.”
Personally, I’d love to see people of all ages interact in positive lifelong learning environments such as Elderhostel. The young have much to learn from the oldest amongst us (regardless of what we call them), and much to offer in return. And building multigenerational relationships and communities will be key as Baby Boomers begin creating that “New Old Age.”
I say let the “Exploritas” begin.