Okay, here’s a question: Who’s the coolest ‘old’ person you know? My dad still drives a sports car and he’s nearly 70. Mark, our marketing director, said his mum has just got a BlackBerry and she’s 68.
And a friend’s father-in-law, who’s 70, rollerblades through Hyde Park. Now that’s what I call a cool grandpa.
This week I was reading about the government’s plan to raise the retirement age – maybe to 70. It’s a sobering thought that I might be working for another 33 years before I can collect my pension.
If you’ve ever been guilty of talking vaguely about the ‘young at heart’ over-55s, then just think about it. Shirley Bassey is 73 and she still performs to sell-out auditoriums. Mick Jagger has had his free bus pass for a couple of years now, George Clooney is gorgeous at nearly 50 and Madonna is already there.
Raising the retirement age will have a big impact on all of us. We must reappraise the workplace: the type of colleagues we have and the people we hire. And we must consider the type of holidays we sell now and in the future to appeal to fun-loving, fit and fashionable older travellers.
But we are in the best industry to deal with an ageing generation. The thing that customers love the most when buying a holiday is talking to someone who’s been there and done it. The more countries you’ve been to, the more hotels you’ve stayed in, the better.
Maturity and experience is valued and appreciated in travel consultants. And given ever-improving medical care and health breakthroughs, just think how many miles we can clock up?
Get rid of the ‘grey’ image
The other thing I noted on BBC Breakfast this week that filled me with optimism for our grey future is the growing numbers who are homeworking.
Running businesses from the garden shed or kitchen table is a work trend that is rapidly gaining momentum. It’s flexible and has potential to be extremely lucrative.
In the travel industry many have already realised the benefits, but I think it’s something that has so much more potential given our changing demographics.
As for the type of holidays we sell, I’m pleased that outdated golden oldies-style brochures have gone by the wayside. These days, it’s much more about attitude than age, and that presents an exciting challenge for the way we market our businesses.
If our sports car-driving, rollerblading, BlackBerry-using friends and relatives are anything to go by, we can forget the grey generation and anticipate energetic and interesting colleagues and customers with many years of globetrotting ahead of them.
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