Older travellers will need more reassurance than ever before in order to give them enough confidence to travel again post-Covid.

That was the message to travel companies from Silver Travel Advisor managing director Debbie Marshall speaking at the Atas Virtual Touring and Adventure Week.

Silver Travel Advisor has identified two new segments in the mature market as a result of the pandemic: The Garden-Gaters and The Belt and Bracers.

The first segment has a fear of leaving the house and is unlikely to travel before a vaccine for Covid-19 is found.

The second group is those willing to travel but in need the reassurance that resorts are Covid-secure, that protocols such as social distancing and health and safety measures are in place, information on local hospitals. Those in this category will want travel insurance to cover Covid before they travel, said Marshall.

She said: “The Belt and Bracers will not take anything for granted and will not take any risks.”

The trend is backed up by the information and advice website’s recent survey which showed the significant impact Covid-19 has had on the holiday priorities of the over 50s, with health and safety reassurance coming top of the list.

After health and safety reassurance, respondents said flexibility of the booking, including the option to cancel, was the next most important factor when booking a holiday followed by the financial security of the company being booked with. Choice of destination and price came bottom of the priority list.

Marshall said: “Previously the choice of destination would have been very important but now things have really changed and health and safety is the top priority for the over 50s.

“People are willing to spend more if they know they will get the reassurance that things will be okay and get the flexibility if they need to change [their booking]. A lot of companies are bringing this into their policies when selling holidays.”

The same survey showed the financial impact of Covid has not been as severe for this portion of the market, with only 4% of respondents saying they had been “hard hit” and would have no option but to cut back on their travel spend. More than 90% had been impacted financially in a small way or not at all.

“In terms of having money to travel in future this is really good,” said Marshall, but she warned: “We must not assume they are hoarding their cash and waiting to travel again. People are spending money on other things, on an extension or on their kids.”

Marshall encouraged travel firms to rethink their marketing in light of the mature market’s new priorities and instead of using “fluffy” advertisements and pictures of “unreal, perfect couples” to focus on being “the voice of reassurance”.

In future, Silver Travel Advisor believes the mature market will take more UK holidays, more solo trips and private tours, as well as multigenerational trips and big holidays to make up for lost time and will want more accessible, care-assisted holidays, more socially distanced accommodation such as villas, and more gadgets such as ebikes.

“Silver travellers are resilient. We hope they will be back to being what we know them to be; The Avengers,” she added.

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