What travel agents need to know about the ‘gray dollar’ in 2020

Don't underestimate the buying power of the older generations

Our fast-changing society has a habit of underestimating and sometimes even ignoring older generations. But we shouldn’t be too fast to dismiss senior travelers, as for many travel businesses, these are the people with the purchasing power.  

As revealed in our new ebook – a travel agent's guide to the travelers of tomorrow – over 65-year-olds will make up 700 million of the world’s population in 2020. That means one in four Japanese, a fifth of Germans and one in six Americans and Canadians will be over 65 at the turn of the new decade. And thanks to advances in technology and medicine, the world’s aging population seems younger than ever.
"Those in their sixties and seventies are still thriving, enjoying active lifestyles and making the most of their retirement by traveling the world, and they are spending what some economists call the ‘gray dollar’, or the ‘silver pound’ if you’re in Britain."

But what does this mean for travel advisors? How can you make the most of this growing, affluent generation? Below we’ll explore some of the answers to these questions, but you can find even more brilliant insights and actionable tips in our brand new ebook, Generational Travel Trends 2020: A Guide to the Travelers of Tomorrow for Travel Advisors.

Bedsonline What travel agents need to know about the ‘gray dollar’ in 2020


Which travelers are spending the ‘gray dollar’?

The ‘gray dollar’ is typically thought to apply to consumers over the age of 50. This means it’s going strong among the likes of the Baby Boomers (56 to 74-year-olds) and the Mature/Traditionalist generations (75 years and above), and even some of Generation X (44-55 year olds). 

The former, the Boomers, are one of the most affluent generations today and tend to spend time traveling for leisure and relaxation. The Mature/Traditionalists group is a more reserved generation, and sometimes a little less physically able, but they often still have plenty of free time for traveling and will pay for elevated experiences and easier or smoother travel. 

Gen X, though, is the most cash-rich and happy-to-spend generation, and many are now empty-nesters, meaning the freedom to travel is a new novelty they want to take advantage of. 

How is the ‘gray dollar’ being spent on travel?

Studies in Britain show that travelers over 50 are a huge portion of the tourism market, and in 2020 they are expected to contribute £2.8 billion to the total spend on travel by Brits. A study by Saga Holidays shows that after retirement, more than 35% of over-50s travelers will spend more money on long-haul trips than they did before.

"In Australia, it’s the Baby Boomers in particular who are spending most – they are even referred to as the ‘guardian angels’ of the Australian tourism industry thanks to their flexible travel times and lengthy trips."

In the States, research shows that Baby Boomers spend an average of $522 per day on their travels – including all transports, accommodation, experiences/attractions and food and drink. They also tend to travel for longer periods than any other generation we explored in our ebook, presenting a great prospect for travel advisors looking for returning customers with plenty of flexibility. 

Bedsonline What travel agents need to know about the ‘gray dollar’ in 2020

Generation X typically spends $627 per day on their travels, and they are really keen on investing in high-quality accommodation. That means four- and five-star hotels and luxury resorts. 

The Mature/Traditionalists have a lower purchasing power, but they are still a key market for travel advisors – they are the generation most likely to rely on the services of a trusted professional for booking their trips. 

Now you understand more about the gray dollar or silver pound, download our ebook to get actionable advice and tips to help boost your sales in 2020



  1. Enjoying life through travel; Saga

  2. Future traveler tribes 2020; Amadeus

  3. The truth about how different generations travel; Virtuoso

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