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Are you looking after the over 55’s?

WHY THE GREY POUND IS CRUCIAL FOR THE CONTINUED RECOVERY OF HOSPITALITY BUSINESSES

Former Institute of Hospitality CEO Peter Ducker has spent a lifetime in the hospitality industry and is a member of P&G Professional’s Expert Advisory Council.

Perceived age is a funny thing. At 20, ‘old’ is 30. By 30, it’s nearer 50 – and before too long it’s a moving horizon that hovers about 10 or 15 years ahead of where you are.

We have an ageing population – the over-55s are the ones who have benefitted from house price inflation and many are of the last generation to enjoy defined benefit pension schemes. When the kids are off your hands (if ever), it’s time to enjoy life a little.

The truth of the matter for hospitality businesses is that the “grey market” is a vital area to target, post-pandemic more so than ever.

Pre-pandemic, the travel industry was all over the senior market, tailoring destinations and programmes to attract them, particularly in the ‘shoulder seasons’. Apprehension about travelling abroad is not going away anytime soon. So now there is tremendous pent up demand to get out of the house and have a little fun.

Many of those still working have rolled over their  holiday entitlements from last year and are itching to use them before they lose them, and many more are keen to get out to the theatre, cinema or just to dine away from home.

The key questions we must ask are what drives choice, what concerns need allaying and how can you get ahead of your competitors. These are age-old business problems, of course, but the state of nervousness that prevails in 2021 makes them more critical for every business to address.

Today you need to make health and wellbeing a priority and key part of your marketing message. The most critical question people ask themselves is: “will I be safe there?”

Kantar research cites that the over-55s are the most concerned about cleanliness. They also have the highest spending power. So be loud and proud about your cleaning regime both front and back of house. Make the messaging part of your social media campaign – there have been some great new products developed to help you deliver Covid cleanliness, so use them and shout about it.

In the good old days (pre-pandemic), cleanliness was pretty well a given in all but the dodgiest looking places. Now reassurance is the key to confidence – highlight the steps you’re taking to ensure your business isn’t just clean, but hygienically clean.

Consider physically and digitally displaying the CleanPLUS Experience sticker from P&G Professional as a gold standard in hygiene.

With customers looking for superlative health and hygiene standards so that they feel safe when eating out or staying away from home, displaying this signage will convey to them that your establishment has been cleaned to the highest levels using known and trusted brands such as Flash Professional, Fairy Professional and Ariel Professional.

Let’s also look at restaurants. Dining out is a treat – the opportunity to catch up with friends, turning a visit to the cinema into more of an event or simply enjoying an evening with loved ones.

We know that many “greys” have disposable income and are deeply embedded in the experience economy.  They are seasoned travellers who are culinary adventurers but are currently “grounded”. Surely this combination is catnip for restaurateurs. So how can you capture your share of this valuable market – the key question is what do you need to do to get your share?

Some key factors have not been impacted by the pandemic. Key drivers have always been – and always will be – location, cuisine, reputation, atmosphere and of course, price.  These days, online reputation is key – so keep an eye on your social media and review websites.

Another factor is value – obviously you’ve got to price your menu wisely, but can you grow business in shoulder times – early evening may be slack for you if you’re not near theatres or cinemas, so can you build business with early bird offers.

What did you do in the pandemic? Did you offer a take away service? If you have a database of those clients then offer them a special deal to come and eat in as a thank you for their support. Similarly, if you did home deliveries, keep up the contact.

Are there new ways of connecting with customers? If your meat supplier or vintner is local and also has a retail business, then why not talk to them about offering their retail clients a special deal in your restaurant. It’s a way of reaching new people, and could be a great local media story for both you and your supplier.

Be innovative and think outside the box. Now is not the time to sit back and wait for the phone to ring – there is a market out there, so go for it.

To find out more about the CleanPLUS Experience – from P&G Professional’s trusted household name brands Fairy Professional, Flash Professional and Ariel Professional – including applying for complementary materials and signage, call 0800 716 854 or visit www.pgpro.co.uk/cleanplus

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