In a year that is seeing unprecedented change in the travel industry, the winners will be travel providers that understand the changes and who can adapt their business models to take advantage of them.


One such travel company is Ideal Cruising, an agent that specialises in the cruise sector. It has made clever use of audio files to make its website more accessible to visually impaired customers. All of the site’s 6,000 cruise itineraries can be listened to, either through the site or on an MP3 player.


Ideal Cruising launched the service to target a potential customer base of two million visually impaired people who, it says, tend be older and are therefore the traditional audience of the cruise market.


This is a shrewd move. The technology enables Ideal Cruising to further tap its key customer base.


Looking a few years into the future might seem a futile exercise when immediate business concerns are a priority, but it is critical that travel providers understand the demographics that will underpin their businesses in the future.


Population projections suggest the number of people aged between 50 and 69 will increase in the UK from 13 million today to 15.9 million by 2024.


And by 2050, one in four of the population will be aged over 65, compared with one in six now. And by then, the average man of 65 can expect to live for another 22 years, and the average woman another 25.


These statistics go to show that the older end of the market is growing. As life expectancy increases, so older customers will remain active for longer, and therein lies the opportunity for agents. Recent research by marketing agency Millennium suggests that the ‘baby boomer’ generation will present a significant selling opportunity over the next two decades.


If you have a similar story of innovation or customer service, then Travel Weekly wants to hear from you. The first deadline for the Travel Weekly Agent Excellence Awards is fast approaching, so enter now.