Will it all mean the great grey nomad experience about to become a nostalgic memory? Quite the opposite!
We need to look beyond the headlines to the longer-term underlying trends for the grey nomad market. First and foremost, the wealth issue.
Despite the losses experienced in the short term, the current cohort of grey nomads is probably the wealthiest ever. At the last census, those aged over 55 constituted 27% of Australia’s population, but owned more than half of its wealth.
Next, we need to think who grey nomads are. They are mainly comprised of the Baby Boomer generational cohort (anyone 57–75). Baby Boomers are the ultimate disruptors. As Bronwyn White of New Young Consulting points out this is the group who lead the ‘Summer of Love’ – the first true counter-culture generation.
One slogan I saw recently said they plan to ‘Live Fast, Die Old’ – and the stats prove that they will! This showed in the early stages of the pandemic where Boomers were the least likely to heed warnings (although that has changed).
Restrictions haven’t stopped them dreaming. According to OOH media, 72% of Baby Boomers intend to holiday in Australia in the next 12 months. Border closures are no deterrent – a similar proportion (72%) are looking forward to travelling in their own state – fully 10% more than in other age groups.
Caravanning and camping is going to appeal to them more than ever – both because of what it has always been and what it offers in the Covid-19 era. At MyTravelResearch.com, we’ve developed laws of trends to predict the future. Law number 1 states: ‘Trends arise when changes in external factors like technology or demography collide with eternal, unmet or under-served needs.’
All of the evidence about caravan trips is that, at their core, they meet a need for freedom. And freedom is of one of the biggest losses that we have faced, so the opportunity to regain it is a no-brainer.
Another key need it meets is flexibility. In a constantly fluctuating situation, flexibility to change your itinerary with no penalty is a key traveller demand. Paradoxically, caravan and camping also meets a new and quite contradictory need: control and safety.
Caravanners can retreat to their own safe space – where they set the cleaning standards. Looking further into the future, we’ve seen growth in the next generation of travellers: the Gen Xers taking their families caravanning and camping.
Their desire for the great Aussie road trip means that we can probably predict at least another 30 years of good outcomes – whatever happens with the international borders.