Hospitality Industry Neglecting over-65s Market

Almost two thirds of hospitality businesses are failing to target the over-65s, research by Barclays has found, despite most firms claiming they are tuned in to older audiences.

In the Barclays’ survey of 160 senior executives across the industry, 62 per cent admitted they had no specific services or products tailored to the over-65s market — such as special deals or physical facilities including easy access — while eight in ten said they had no plans to start doing so. 

However, Mike Saul, head of hospitality and leisure at Barclays Corporate, said it was a mistake to overlook the opportunities that a healthier, ageing population represented for firms in the hospitality industry.

“Given the level of income the over-65s currently provide to the industry, it would be remiss to ignore investing in a demographic that is expected to grow so significantly in the next few years,” he said.

Changes needn’t be dramatic or expensive, added Saul, with minor adjustments such as targeted marketing campaigns and promotions aimed at older audiences often easy to put in place.

However, British Hospitality Association spokesman Miles Quest said that many existing hotels and restaurants had worked very hard in recent years to capture the older, often high-spending retired market.

“Hotels and restaurants aren’t silly. The over-65s often have lots of time and money which they can spend on weekend breaks, expensive meals and out-of-season holidays.”

“Smaller independents can struggle to keep up with trends and expensive marketing campaigns compared with the big chains,” added Quest. “But most successful local businesses are very aware of their clientele, including older customers. They are typically close to the ground so they understand their customers and what they want, whether that’s a certain style of menu, pricing or even decor.”

Mark Beasley, managing director of marketing agency RHC Advantage which specialises in older audiences, advised businesses keen to attract an older clientele to make sure that their offer was inclusive.

“All the evidence shows that older consumers dislike being targeted by age. But with age comes certain issues — physical mobility or impaired eyesight, for example. Loud music, over-friendly youthful waiting staff, menus with small print and washrooms accessible by staircases, for example, are just some of the ways in which older people can feel alienated. Assess your business and how it works for people over a certain age.”

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