Connecting with Snowbirds

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Saturday marks the beginning of fall. For many residents, the seasonal change doesn’t mean much since daily temperatures will stay in the 90’s throughout September.

However, this season most notably marks the return of temporary residents often referred to as Snowbirds. The winter residents are usually retirees who travel to Phoenix from as far north as Canada to escape the winter, according to Judy Hedding writer for TripSavvy.

And really, who wouldn’t trade black ice and freezing temperatures for year-round golf and spring training games? With the arrival of this new audience, come new challenges and opportunities for local marketing and public relations professionals. So exactly how does this audience differ from the Valley’s current residents? How should they be approached?

“The first lesson in senior living marketing is to not label the consumer as a senior,” said Morgan Gardea of Zion & Zion, a full-service digital marketing agency in Tempe. In her article, “Marketing ‘Senior Living’ to the ‘Senior’ Consumer,” Gardea dispels some stereotypes and offers marketing tips on how to engage a generation who were born prior to 1964, those who are nearing or at retirement age.

These tips include but are not limited to avoiding overgeneralization and making the false assumption that senior consumers are technologically challenged. Gardea refers to Pew Research Center’s study that found the number of seniors using smartphones actually quadrupled prior to 2016. Based on this research, Gardea suggests businesses should definitely use the Internet to connect with this audience.

Gardea’s article was specifically about senior living. However, the tips are easily translatable to a variety of industries selling to this temporary audience. Some interesting considerations include these travelers are from different states and sometimes countries. So, what are the unusual difficulties these residents face prior to and during their living transition? One difficulty is how the visitors are received by local residents. Often there are negative feelings toward the temporary guests. Some locals see the temporary influx as an invasion of space and resources. Below is a conversation between audiences sourced from a travel blog written about the temporary residents.

Comments sourced from: “30 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Snowbirds” by blogger Kelsey B. on BLT.

While the conversation might just seem like the typical petty conversation between the audiences, it actually communicates behavior. This behavior includes the temporary resident’s decision to live with or nearby others who are just like them. In the article “Arizona desert town home to 2 million snowbirds,” reporter Megan Bahr talks about the yearly influx of visitors that flock to the area during the winter months. During this time the population in Quartzite, Arizona increases by more than two million residents which includes the temporary winter residents.

In short, this is definitely an audience that deserves more attention. What are some misconceptions that you might have heard about Arizona’s seasonal visitors? Do they merit more attention?

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