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Baby Boomers Are Chasing the Music as Hotels and Tourism Destinations Pick Up on the Economic Beat


When rock and roll music came on the scene in the 1960s, a generation of young people fell in love with the new sound. Fifty years later, they have not let go.

Baby boomers are digging into their pockets to see their favorite bands—wherever they may be.

Boomers—those born in the years 1946 to 1964—want relaxation coupled with shared experiences. They are spending money on learning Thai cooking, hitting the world’s beaches, music concerts and festivals.

They’re traveling more than ever. Research shows that most boomers have taken at least one vacation in 2017 but may take up to five throughout the year, according to AARP. Those are happening in the summer and are booked with the purpose of connecting with friends and family.

Music is a big motivator to get boomers—many of whom are now in the retirement age demographic—on the plane, and they are almost always attending in pairs.

Friendship and Memories

In addition to camaraderie, capturing the memories of youth is a big factor for the middle-aged trippers. After all, it’s the boomers who put concert-going on the map. So, what’s the reason for the surge in music travel for boomers?

They finally have the time and money now that the nest is empty.

Desert Trip in Indio, California was held in October and brought out boomers from around the United States, mainly because of its tremendous lineup of Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. Tickets were hefty, with the most inexpensive starting around $300.

The festival was billed as “Oldchella,” as it’s promoted by the same company that produces Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival each year in the same location.

Coachella tends to skew young, but Desert Trip hit the right note as it put boomer travel in the spotlight, enlightening the industry to the spending power the post-40 demographic possesses.

Desert Trip was followed up by The Classic East and The Classic West festivals—which featured Fleetwood Mac; Earth, Wind and Fire; The Eagles; and The Doobie Brothers—drawing big numbers of the over-40 crowd in both the New York and Los Angeles locations. Many of those attending traveled from more than one hour away, and hotels saw a good gain despite the events being held in the middle of the competitive summer season.

Fear Factor

In addition to relaxation and communing with friends, there are other reasons the post-40 crowd wants to hit the road: They don’t want the sedentary life of their parents.

“It’s a matter of fear,” says John Espinosa of Santa Monica.

Espinosa and his wife, Grace, travel around the U.S. if the concert is right.

“I love going to shows, and I will travel to see a festival,” he said. “I love The Who, The Stones and a lot of other bands. But one thing is I think sometimes I keep moving because I don’t want to be like my parents, who stayed home all the time. I think their health suffered for it.”

The success of these concert events has set the travel industry in motion as plenty of new music festivals catering to the retirement crowd are being planned daily.

Festival Packages

Hotel and festival ticket packages are sold for a variety of events throughout the country, with many featuring artists of genres other than rock music.

Essence Music Festival is held each year in New Orleans as a jazz-based event in one of America’s jazziest cities. Country Music is represented heavily on the festival circuit as well: Country Music Awards each year draws thousands of boomer-aged fans to Nashville

Music festivals also bring ancillary spending. Hotels see a sharp gain when music events are held over the course of two days or more. Destinations are able to reap the rewards when a fest stretches longer than two days as many boomer couples and groups of friends get the time to take a side-trip, sightsee or have a meal outside of the arena or festival grounds.

Desert Trip Dispatch: Our Ace Reviewer Bob Busby Gives A Thumbs Up Wrapup From ‘Oldchella’

Busby: ‘One of the Best Events I’ve Ever Attended’

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-12-25-35-amBy BOB BUSBY

Roger Waters kept his politics in check during weekend 2 of Desert Trip, but did basically tell the crowds that he would still support the Palestinian people and their causes.

Nobody yelled anything at him. There was no discomfort in the crowd. Some people left a little earlier; he finished at 12:35 a.m.

Bob Dylan opened and he was great, of course.

The people said he was better than last week. He was really good, he opened the first set and the show in fact with “Everybody Must Get Stoned,” he did “Tangled Up in Blue” and he did five or six songs that were popular. The band sounded great.

The Rolling Stones: Still Smokin’

Keef and Mick are still smokin' hot - Photo and video courtesy of Prestoff2000

Keef and Mick are still smokin’ hot – Photo and video courtesy of Prestoff2000

The Rolling Stones were The Rolling Stones, of course they were great. Mick made a funny joke to the effect of “I know people are calling this ‘Oldchella’ but maybe they should call it ‘Who’s gonna croak first?’  He also said, “I can’t help call attention to the fact that we’ve never shared the stage with a Nobel Prize winner before,” referring to Dylan.

On Saturday night Neil Young opened with classic acoustic songs and the favorite, “Sugar Mountain.

By coincidence it was a full moon, which rose huge with great light to the side of the stage while he was playing, “Harvest Moon” and the cameras went to the moon and put it on the screens. It was a crystal clear moon, it was very emotional. It was literally magical. Other people were affected in the same way. It was the most magical thing. Neil was just really on.

Sir Paul With Neil Young at Desert Trip

Photo by Kevin Mazur

Photo by Kevin Mazur

Then Paul came on, and these guys are not retired, they do this all the time and it shows. Then he brought out Rihanna.  I didn’t know the song, “FourFiveSeconds” but she was really good. Then she left. Right after that he brought Neil out and they did “A Day in the Life,” and it was a fantastic version. Neil just rocked. Paul was like, “This is Neil fucking Young!” Neil went apeshit on the guitar and Paul looked at the audience like “I hope you realize what you’re watching.” And Neil was saying “This is Paul McCartney!” It was two icons.

Saturday was the best. The Who complained before they sang a note. Roger Daltrey said, “Can somebody please turn off the fan?” That’s because it was windy and like 90 degrees at 6 o’clock still.  Not only was the heat holding, the heat held all the way through the night, it cooled down and then at 10 o’clock it warmed up again.

The real star of the show was the venue.  And the screens and the speakers. The screens were at least 10 stories tall and 100 yards wide.  The screens were so big.  We just kept remarking on how incredible the video production was. It was so crystal clear. The real star of the whole thing is the venue for sure.

The Venue at Coachella

The Who - Photo courtesy of Desert Trip for

The Who – Photo courtesy of Desert Trip

You know you can put thousands of people into Giants stadium it’s tiered so it doesn’t look like this. Believe me, 85,000 people on a flat surface goes way the heck back. My friends were in the back. They had four giant screens in the back too. Four huge screens, and there were amazing speakers every 25 yards in every direction and Roger Waters made full use of those speakers with sound coming from all directions. You’d be hearing sounds like a taxi cab coming from a thousand yards to the left.

All in all, musically it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended.

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