Older travellers are putting more trust in agents as the pandemic continues, new research shows.
The Silver Travel Industry Report 2021 found 49% of older consumers interviewed in January said they would use an agent, compared to 36% last year. Silver Travel Advisor interviewed 2,300 people in four surveys in May, July and November 2020 and in January 2021.
“We have seen a marked swing here,” said Gill Haynes, the brand’s partnerships and promotions director.
The poll also found more of a need for face-to-face contact, with 25% of respondents saying they would go to an agency in person, compared with 14% last year.
“People are recognising the real value of an agent when things get tricky,” Haynes said.
Asked about their reasons for using an agent, 42% said they wanted the reassurance of someone to help and 38% cited financial security. Almost half said they would choose an independent agent and 34% the larger chains.
The older market emerged as a resilient sector with pent-up demand for travel, with 46% saying they wanted to travel “as much as possible” and 86% saying they would spend as much, if not more, than before when surveyed in January. The same question in November garnered only a 68% response.
“There is a growing level of confidence and willingness to get back out there,” said Haynes, who added 95% of those surveyed were happy to have the Covid vaccine.
The appetite for foreign travel was also illustrated by another switch in responses from July to January. Last summer, 54% said they would holiday in the UK, compared to only 30% in January.
Among existing cruisers, 34% said they would return, compared to only 24% last summer. The industry still has some way to go to persuade first timers, but the balance is tipping, with a minority, 45%, now saying they would not take a cruise, compared with 57% last summer.
An overwhelming 93% were not prepared to leave the country without Covid insurance cover.
Silver Travel Advisor marks its 10th anniversary this year. Founder Debbie Marshall said the report “very much shows the resilience, the ambition, the strength of silver travellers to get back out there”.