Is your hotel silver friendly?  Roger Bray’s essential marketing tips for attracting and retaining older guests.

There’s no denying the advantages of an e-reader as your eyesight’s youthful clarity fades. The font can be adjusted discreetly. My Kindle has a light that enables me to keep reading while my wife sleeps. But sometimes you hanker for the feel of a real hard copy book. If you pack it, sod’s law not only ensures you’ll be part way through it when you take off on holiday but that the bedroom reading lights in the hotel – or hotels – you’ve booked will be dim as Toc H lamps.

It strikes me that the hospitality industry is missing several tricks in when it comes to attracting older guests. Why don’t hotels market themselves as “silver friendly”? After all, on low season midweek nights we are their bread and butter. We don’t want it shoved in our faces but we would love to hear that there are spotlights over all the headboards. It surely wouldn’t be a major investment.

What else should silver friendliness embrace? How about suggesting in their marketing material that if guests would like to provide their ages (it would of course be entirely of their own choosing), they could enhance the attractiveness the stay. Isn’t ensuring repeat business all part of the marketing process. I know one front of house proprietor whose personality alone must persuade a large proportion of customers come back and have stayed in more than a few that fit impermeable sheets to protect their mattresses, which adds them straight to the blacklist.

Hoteliers may not want to include all the following suggestions in their marketing material but knowing your age might make them aware, for example, that there should be several extra pillows in the room, in case your aging digestive system can’t cope with their much vaunted tasting menu and you like to be propped up a bit. It might even help them try to keep early dining slots available to save you reaching for the Rennies (other brands are available) and to provide a soft nightlight for those nocturnal bathroom expeditions. It might certainly stop them booking you into a room with a steep step to negotiate in pitch blackness.

An effort to be silver friendly might even convince those still providing single use plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles they should try to source them with print on the labels big enough that we can read them without wearing our glasses in the shower. We appreciate magnifying mirrors in the bathroom too.

I’ve stayed in many hotels that go the extra mile in anticipating guests’ needs – not least one in the Alps with backpacks left in rooms for those who fancied a day’s hiking but with the exception of accessibility can’t remember any that made specifically age related efforts. The little failings listed here may not “amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world” – but recognising old age amid the often florid verbosity of  marketing material might prove a win win.



Contributor:  Roger Bray