Home' Travel News : October 2012 Contents 68 travel news October 2012
October 2012 travel news 69
Jane Barsby is a well-known and
respected travel writer who lives, works
and plays in Nairobi.
It's a grim little fact, but one worth knowing:
there are now more elderly people (classifed
as over 65 years of age) on the planet than
at any other time in the history of the world.
If you are young, this fact will not interest you.
Because you will not yet have appreciated
the fact that grey is a destination to which we
are all heading. If your business is hunting
revenue in the destinations jungle, however,
you will know that grey matters.
In Britain, for instance, whose citizens are
one of the top ten highest tourism spenders
in the world (the list runs: Germany, USA,
China, United Kingdom, France, Canada,
Russia, Italy, Japan and Australia), 17% of
the population is in the 55-64 age bracket.
And, by 2035, that fgure will have risen to
This matters because the typical over
65-year-old British 'silverback' is a creature
worth tracking. Wily and information-hungry,
it has the time, the inclination and, generally,
the disposable income required for travel. It
has been less affected by the global crunch
than any other of its race. It considers
holiday spending essential, and takes more
holidays a year than any other Brit: 28%
going on holiday more than twice a year.
It's remarkably intrepid, increasingly seizing
seats on the cross-Africa bus trips that were
formerly the preserve of the young. And it's
so technology savvy that two-thirds of its
numbers book holidays online without batting
an eyelid; in short, it's the perfect tourist.
Strange then, that the global travel industry
is still experiencing a senior moment when
it comes to wising up to what grey people
How to entice the high-spending grey
panthers of the world?
Easy. Get to know their habits.
Discerning in their choice of sleeping
platforms, grey panthers usually prefer twin
beds to double; and they like a ground foor
location close to the lift and the fre escape.
Though generally less gregarious than cubs,
they appreciate being greeted on arrival in
a new territory, but not too effusively: cold
drinks are OK, lukewarm, slimy-stale towels
Ultra-alert, especially when distant from their
home range, grey panthers like to be given
clear and concise instructions regarding
meal times, hotel layout and entertainment
options. Secretive hoarders of chunks of
information, they are particularly fond of
in-room information that is well written and
Though not greatly clubbable, panthers like
cultural pursuits. They also like to be able
to foregather for a chat without having to sit
by a hot pool or in a dark bar. In general,
panthers hate loud or sudden noises
and fashing lights; discos are, therefore,
anathema to them.
Because they like to see in the dark, panthers
must be provided with good lighting: by the
bedside, on the desk, in the closet and at
room entry. Keen on personal and ecological
energy preservation, they also like to have
a 'master' electrical switch at the bedside
controls, which switches off all the lights at
once. Also a 'night light' that provides a soft
glow to illuminate nocturnal prowls.
If you insist on making panthers use
electronic door lock cards, it is imperative
that you ensure the lighting in the corridors
and over the doors is such that the panther
is not required to paw around in the dark.
Irritated by reminders of potentially failing
eyesight, panthers demand TV remote
controls that are easily read, clear in
direction, simple to operate and hygienically
clean (in general panthers are dirt-phobes).
Often skittish when in water, panthers tend
to grip better when non-slip bath and shower
mats are provided, and they are not averse
to grab rails. They also like to be able to
read which is 'hot' and 'cold', and which is
shampoo and which conditioner, without
having to hunt down their glasses.
Often nocturnal and sometimes insomniac,
panthers are happier when provided with
blackout curtains. They also desire alarm
clocks that are both easily read and set
(in case of inadvertent sleep-ins). Avid
groomers, panthers' closets should contain
irons, ironing boards, clothes brushes, shoe
shiners and suffcient good quality coat
hangers for their many coats. They also
require a high magnifcation mirror on an
accordion bracket in the bathroom (for the
extraction of grey hairs in the wrong place),
and a hair-dryer with a wall-hung bracket
(whether required or not).
Finally, though the typical grey panther
frequently leaves its room with its jumper on
inside out having failed to see which side
the seams are on, it objects bitterly to being
shouted at by staff who believe that everyone
over 60 is deaf. Also to being addressed as
'dear', 'sweetie' or 'darling'.
All sound perfectly normal to you?
Well there you are, then.
It takes one to know one.
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