The mature market can be a lucrative one if you know how to upsell, writes Laura French.

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Accommodation, flights, insurance, car hire… There’s a whole lot to think about when it comes to packaging up a holiday, and things can get that little more complex when it comes to older travellers with additional requests and expectations.

But shy away from this market at your peril. Higher budgets, increased time and the willingness to fork out for added comforts all mean the over-50s bracket can be a lucrative one.

Whether it’s suite upgrades, airport add-ons, bolt-on excursions, celebration packages or other extras, there’s a wealth of upselling opportunities you can capitalise on to boost your commission and strengthen client relationships at the same time.

We’ve spoken to the experts to get the lowdown on how and what to sell.

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Airport upgrades

First things first – look to the upgrade opportunities. Business class flights are an obvious choice for mature travellers with a decent budget, but if that’s beyond their parameters then suggest premium economy as a half-way house, says John Parker, product manager at Premier Holidays. Wider seats, extra legroom, upgraded meals, bigger TV screens and priority boarding are all key selling points worth dropping into the conversation.

Comfort needn’t be restricted to the flight itself, though; airport lounges can provide something of an oasis in packed-out airports. “We always suggest airport lounges to our mature clients travelling long haul,” says Parker. “And those who have done this previously are generally keen to include it again.”

“AirPortr collects and checks in bags straight from home for those living within the M25 and around Heathrow and Gatwick.”

Getting to the airport in the first place with multiple bags in tow can be half the battle, of course, especially for clients travelling by train or tube. If that’s the case, suggest a luggage transfer service. AirPortr collects and checks in bags straight from home for those living within the M25 and around Heathrow and Gatwick (when flying with certain airlines), with prices from £30 for one bag or £40 for up to four. “This has proved incredibly popular with older travellers who no longer have to worry about transporting cumbersome luggage or queuing at check-in,” says chief executive Randel Darby.

Even if clients don’t want to fork out much, there are other lower-cost extras available to boost comfort and ease. Holiday Extras offers fast-track check-in to avoid queues from £3 per person, for example, cutting waiting times significantly and making the journey that little smoother, while helping you boost the value of the package that bit more.

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Hotel add-ons

Once clients are in resort, there are a whole host of add-ons that can make their stay more comfortable.

If it’s space and privacy they’re after, suggest upgrading to a room that allows access to the hotel club lounge. These can include everything from afternoon tea to evening cocktails and canapes, so guests save on food and drink as well as enjoying an extra level of comfort.

“If it’s space and privacy they’re after, suggest upgrading to a room that allows access to the hotel club lounge.”

AMResorts, for example, has a Preferred Club service across its brands, including Secrets, Dreams, Breathless and Now, offering an exclusive lounge with daily continental breakfast, afternoon hors d’oeuvres, liqueurs and in-room newspapers. Certain resorts also offer Preferred Club-only services like private restaurants, pools and bars.

“I think the key message here is the availability of calm, upmarket havens accessible throughout the holiday,” says Malcolm Davies, product destination manager for Funway Holidays.

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But for mature travellers wanting to really up the luxury there’s only one thing for it – an upgrade to a suite, of course. Increased space, private pools and butler service can all help seal the deal for those with budget to spare, so highlight these plus points to mature clients, especially those celebrating special occasions, says Karl Thompson, managing director for Unique Caribbean Vacations (Sandals’ tour operator arm). “If it’s a special occasion trip like a birthday or wedding anniversary, most guests are keen to spend a little extra to make their holiday even more memorable,” he says.

And if they are celebrating a big day, suggest adding a special package to bolster the booking value that little more. In-room flowers, champagne and spa treatments are all easy to come by.

“Increased space, private pools and butler service can all help seal the deal for those with budget to spare.”

Warner Leisure Hotels ups the game further with VIP packages offering a priority-position table during evening entertainment, plus complimentary drinks, a dedicated VIP waiter and, in its Platinum option, the chance to meet the star of the show (from £60 per person, including half a bottle of champagne). They also offer early check-in and late check-out for an extra fee (from £10 per room), which is worth recommending for older clients in search of extra flexibility.

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On tour

It’s not just hotels that can be upgraded, of course. For those heading off on a cruise, suggest a cabin upgrade, says APT’s national sales manager Jessica Shelton-Agar. “By staying on the middle or upper cabin decks, guests will often have a balcony option as well as easier access to many of the amenities on board, such as restaurants and lounges,” she says. “These benefits are ideal if too many stairs are a challenge for the guest.”

There are plenty of other upgrades to be found on cruises and tours. APT offers Luxury departures that include drinks, tips and more, while Exodus Travels has Premium itineraries with added luxuries and upgraded accommodation. Leger Holidays has its own range of extras, including its Silver Service range – providing more comfortable coaches plus porterage at hotels – and a special collection of Luxuria Signature Tours, featuring higher-end accommodation and extra coach facilities such as personal touchscreen TVs and wider seats. Inntravel, meanwhile, offers upgraded versions of its most popular walking trips, with stays in unique locations such as a Renaissance mansion in Siena, and Villa Bled in Slovenia.

“If clients want to hire a car, recommend one they can pre-book so it’s all planned before they arrive.”

Don’t forget the practicalities either – something as simple as highlighting a home pick-up service could be enough to close a booking. Leger passengers living within 20 miles of a joining point can pay a small fee for a home pick-up, while Shearings Holidays provides a similar service with its ‘Home Connect’ option (available free on certain trips, and for a small charge on others).

Saga also includes VIP door-to-door service on all long-haul holidays and selected Europe tours and river cruises, while Titan Travel offers return door-to-door transfers with drivers – making for an excellent selling point when it comes to touring product more generally.

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Going it alone

Booking a comprehensive travel insurance package is a must, says Seamus McCauley, head of communications at Holiday Extras. “Mature travellers can often require a greater level of cover, particularly if they have any pre-existing medical conditions,” he says. Holiday Extras offers policies from £50, based on an over-65 travelling in Europe with a pre-existing medical condition.

And if clients want to hire a car, recommend one they can pre-book so it’s all planned before they arrive. Affordable Car Hire offers commission to agents and can arrange for the car to be delivered to the client’s hotel – ideal to avoid having to navigate after a tiring flight – and they also offer an excess refund policy, meaning customers can reclaim any excess they’d have to pay in the event of an accident – providing that all-important peace of mind, and helping them enjoy a holiday without practicalities getting in the way.


Ask the expert

“The mature traveller can find some destinations a little daunting, so a tour can be a good solution. Some travellers like help with practical things like hotel check-in and managing luggage, but more than that, the tour manager can help with decisions on where to visit and when for the best experiences. Using their local knowledge they also give a few secrets – such as the best places to eat depending on your taste and budget. They can also help with local language.”
Dave Sharman, commercial director, Newmarket Holidays


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