The spending power of pensioners is being seen as a missed opportunity for companies that remain focused on targeting families, according to a new report.

The over-65s spend £3,372 a year each on leisure and hospitality, compared with an average of £2,664 among those aged 35 to 54, the consumer group that companies do most to chase.

Pensioners who travel abroad spent £5,419 a year on foreign holidays compared with only £3,187 among the 35-54 age group, the study by Barclays shows.

They even spend more visiting theme parks than parents with young families, at £396 a year compared with £231.

Pensioners spend more per head than any other age group on eating out, going to the cinema and theatre, staying at hotels in Britain, gambling and playing golf.

The hospitality and leisure industry could be missing out on at least £16 billion by underestimating the spending power of the older generation, the research found.

One fifth of the industry’s income – an estimated £37 billion in 2014 – was generated from the over 65s.

Although this age group likes to look around online, most like to speak to someone by phone to make a booking, according to the study.

They are more loyal to companies they like and trust than younger consumers, care more about quality of service than price, and want their feedback taken seriously.

Mike Saul, head of hospitality and leisure at Barclays, said the spending power of pensioners had crept up in recent years and they now formed a crucial part of the market, The Times reported.

“There is a definite feelgood factor in this demographic, who have benefited from price reductions and better value for money in many areas,” he said. “They also feel younger than previous generations of pensioners with more desire to do different things, travel and enjoy themselves.”

They are also the first generation to have children live in different parts of the country or even abroad, so often they are the ones who pay for family days out or multi-generational holidays.

Despite all this, the study found that companies were doing little to woo this affluent group, spending much of their advertising budget chasing families with young children.

Of the companies surveyed, only five per cent said pensioners were the most important customer group.

“Hotels and holiday companies have done most to attract their business, but pubs and restaurants and even gyms and fitness centres could be doing more with off-peak deals or mid-week offers,” Saul said.

Original article source: Travel Weekly