“There’s a lot of pent-up desire among seniors, and a sense of life running out,” said Jeff Galak, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. “There’s a theory called mortality salience: When your own mortality is brought to mind, behaviors change. We’re going to see upgrades to better cabins on cruise ships, and booking of better hotels.”
For travelers in their 60s, 70s and 80s, said Conor Goodwin, corporate manager of Charlestowne Hotels, the ticking of the clock is another strong motivation to book as soon as an inoculation makes it safe.
“The 65-plus demographic is losing out on their golden years and they’re understandably eager to get back out there,” he said.
The Bristol Hotel in Virginia, which is part of Charlestowne’s portfolio, saw revenue from travelers over the age of 65 increase 179 percent between Dec. 13 and Jan. 22. The French Quarter Inn, in Charleston, S.C., which is also managed by Charlestowne, saw 11 percent more bookings from people over 65 between Jan. 10 and 28 compared Dec. 22 to Jan 9.
Some older travelers are even opting to finally book those big-ticket dream trips. Fernando Diez, who owns Quasar Expeditions, a luxury cruise operator in the Galápagos Islands, says that in December, when frontline health care workers were among the very first Americans to receive vaccines, he saw a wave of requests for trip information from doctors and nurses.
Since Jan. 1, however, 70 percent of his booking inquiries have come from guests over the age of 65 — in previous years, that number was closer to 40 percent. Most inquiries are for travel from June onward.
“Most of them say they’ve been vaccinated, and they’re comfortable now traveling to a destination like Ecuador and the Galápagos,” Mr. Diez said. “The vaccination gives them the confidence to travel to a remote spot.”