Celebration Vacations on the Rise

An AARP study reveals that Americans ages 45 and older are booking more celebratory trips, which means more business for travel agents By: Diane Merlino
Celebratory travel might include birthday or anniversary trips. // © 2014 Thinkstock
Celebratory travel might include birthday or anniversary trips. // © 2014 Thinkstock

The Details

According to AARP research, 78 percent of Americans ages 45 and older have taken or plan to take a vacation to celebrate a life milestone in the next two years.

Why It Matters:
Travel is the number one aspiration for the 76 million people in the baby boomer generation, which collectively spends more than $120 billion annually in leisure travel, according to AARP. It’s also the top aspiration for adults 50 and older, which will include the first members of Generation X starting in 2015.

AARP conducted an online survey in June 2014 among adults ages 45 and older who have taken at least one trip 50 miles or more away from home with a two-night stay in the past two years. Of the 1,222 respondents, nearly three-quarters said they plan to take a vacation to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, wedding or family reunion in the near future, representing a significant business opportunity for travel agents.

Fast Facts:
- 87 percent of survey respondents said an anniversary was their top reason to take a celebratory vacation, followed by a birthday (74 percent) and retirement (69 percent).

- 63 percent of celebration vacations taken in the last two years were in the U.S., with Las Vegas as the top destination choice; 18 percent were to tropical destinations, primarily the Caribbean and Hawaii; and 9 percent were overseas vacations, with Italy and France the top destination choices.

- 67 percent of celebration vacations were planned by those taking the vacation themselves.

- The majority of those who took a celebration vacation used a website to plan (63 percent) or book (70 percent) their trip, but only about one-third used the Internet to come up with ideas or share their vacation with others.

- 96 percent of respondents found their celebration vacation extremely satisfying, and 92 percent are likely to take one again in the near future.

What They Are Saying:
“Boomers and even older members of Generation X are open to celebrating with vacations, instead of getting a big-ticket item like a piece of jewelry or even throwing a party,” said Sami Hassanyeh, senior vice president and chief digital officer for AARP. “Those planning celebration vacations want them to be easy to get to and memorable. They are often choosing cities over beaches, and Las Vegas, Los Angeles and even Disney are top destinations, which is great for travel agents in the western U.S. who know those destinations well.”