Golden Oldies Dining

The Gold Coast’s status as a retirement hotspot, as highlighted in recent media releases, has direct ramifications for the hospitality industry.

While there’s no questioning the worth of being ‘Games ready’, with domestic and local tourism being our biggest market, it’s worth looking most closely at who those ‘locals’ are.

People over 65 years of age, their net wealth estimated at $1.4 million per person, make up 16.5% of the Gold Coast’s population, demographer Mark McCrindle told Gold Coast Bulletin reporter Andrew Potts (16 Feb. 2018), yet we rarely see dining venues marketing to seniors.

Between interstate migration and long-term residents downsizing their homes, a substantial amount of money is moving into the economy as older residents step up their lifestyle in retirement.

A proportion of the $3.5 billion the city’s post-retirement community will inject into the local economy over the next five years could easily flow into the hospitality industry. After all, retirees have time on their hands, so why not spend it with friends over a meal or drinks?

They’re the generation who have lived through 22% interest rates and the GFC so, even though they have assets, they’re also budget conscious. Not afraid to spend money on large items, such as overseas travel, many want to eat out more often with a smaller spend and BYO. Fixed price lunches, ‘early bird’ dining and packaged two-course meals including a glass of wine/beer are also attractive to seniors, so they can estimate cost.

Baby Boomers are loyal customers, returning habitually to favourite eateries and ‘watering holes’ either in their comfort zone or places of special interest (with a view, music, or other complementary facility venues such as clubs).

Retirees often form friendships with establishment owners, such as the late Tony Velardo of Alfresco’s or Mick Ellison of Mano’s Main Beach who know their clients by name, can ‘talk the talk’ about families or interests and even remember their usual orders.

For restaurants and coffee shops, older clientele favour small places in local suburban shopping centres close to home where parking is easy, where there’s comfortable seating at a table (forget stools and milk crates), low noise levels, larger print readable menus, and a choice of large and small meals with a healthy focus.

For eateries and bars, marketing to an older demographic can fill venues during less busy time slots while creating jobs and stability for the next generation. It’s a win: win scenario.

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NOTE: This article was published in The Sun on 20 March 2018.