The tourism industry has launched a massive drive to attract the kind of travelers with money to burn: baby boomers and senior citizens.
JTB Corp., the nation’s largest travel agency, launched a magazine in November called Travel Hours for Adults in a bid to lure mature travelers.
“We had thought our customers were mostly older people, but a survey found that they are unexpectedly young,” said Yoshinobu Homma, manager of the project. “We had not been serious about seniors, and so we began publishing the magazine.”
JTB is going after baby boomers, hoping to catch the next round of seniors before they reach retirement age, Homma said.
Also this year, JTB will launch a home page dedicated to senior citizens and establish offices in Tokyo that specifically cater to this demographic.
Air Link Corp., a membership travel agent in Tokyo with about 100,000 members, used to offer a special service for senior citizens. Air Link’s customers tend to be mostly middle-aged people.
The company, which offers discount air tickets, used to employ several retirees as so-called senior advisers, who consulted older customers about their travel goals.
“What is important for a service company is that each customer is carefully taken care of,” said Yasuyuki Takimoto, president of Air Link. “From that point of view, we are taking measures. Staff members familiar with traveling can give better advice to the same generation.”
But the service no longer operates — it was canceled after business dropped off in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the United States in September 2001. The firm said it hopes to resurrect the service this spring.
Some 80 percent of Tokyo-based Eurasia Travel Co.’s customers are over 50 years old, with those in their 60s and 70s being the main clients.
Eurasia Travel provides consultations, and its tour guides hand out handwritten sightseeing reports to travelers each day of their trip, a special touch that senior travelers apparently appreciate.
“Mature traveling to satisfy intellectual curiosity — this has been our policy,” said Toshio Inoue, president of Eurasia Travel. “With this policy, seniors have naturally become our customers.
Eurasia Travel plans trips to Latin America, remote places in Asia and the European countryside.
“What seniors want from traveling is heartfelt impressions,” Inoue said.
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