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Millenials, LGBTs…. and what about the elderly?

Di Antonio Caneva, 17 maggio 2018

“Old man, they will say that you are an old man …..” this is what Renato Zero used to sing, while Claudio Baglioni sang “The old, the old people who can’t sleep at night … “. Two nice and perceptive songs, reflecting feelings towards the elderly, as people in the terminal stage of life, with an opaque view of the future.
But is old age truly so, and when does it start? Everybody starts aging at the very moment of birth, and old age, the way it is commonly perceived, is nothing but a conventional reference to a period of one’s lifetime, which shifts along in the course of time. Therefore old age is not an absolute concept, but has to be rethought at any given time depending on shifting parameters.
Even the economy is aware of this. With the aging of the population, the “silver economy” is, more than ever, of topical importance. It is getting out of the marginality where it was confined, and is undergoing an acceleration; in fact, an event will be held in Ancona in June – Expo Meeting Innov-Aging – with the purpose to thoroughly discuss this issue.
On that occasion, as also reported by Corriere della Sera, the decision makers of the bodies and organisations that provide services and products for mature consumers will gather to discuss and listen to presentations delivered by international longevity experts.
If this is a hot issue, how are hotels approaching it? It seems to me they are not very focused, as they continue pursuing a conservative policy. I have gone through the list of contributions to be presented at the Ancona meeting, and there is not a single name representing the hotel and restaurant industry, despite the fact that this topic may have a strong impact on the hospitality economy. After an overplayed focus on millennials and, currently, LGBTs, would it not be useful to think of the “silver economy” by providing opportunities that go beyond the repetitive model of meagre additional services or sad “elderly homes”?
Some industries give great attention to this issue and draw great benefit from it. I wanted to test shipping companies. Last year, at TTG in Rimini, I went to the stand of one of the major American shipping companies. I asked for a catalogue and, talking to one of the people at the desk who I found was the sales manager for Italy, I said I was interested in their offers, because I was “a potential customer, being elderly and therefore having time and an adequate income”. Not only did the lady provide me with all the information, but she also handed me her business card, adding that she would personally take care of my bookings, with tailored proposals.
The cruise industry, with its need for total occupancy, makes use of all opportunities. Why doesn’t hotel hospitality do the same, with products, programmes and attentions devoted to the older people?

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