The Pellucid Perspective - October 2013 - (Page 5)
Seniors in their golden years,
but are you?
Course operators may want to consider raising their senior discount age
By Harvey Silverman
etting older is no problem. You just have to live long
Another birthday recently passed, not a milestone birthday, but I’m now closing in on one. So I told my
lovely wife Bonaventure (yes, her given name) that I’ve decided
to stop counting. It doesn’t really matter to me anymore, and
I’m assured of receiving constant reminders from AARP, Social Security, and the various rewards programs I subscribe to
anyway, so why torture myself by keeping count? Others are
doing it for me.
I played golf on my birthday with my friend Ollie. Playing
with Ollie is what it must be like to play with Robin Williams.
Ollie has a hundred voices and a thousand lines to go with
them. When he plays, he never keeps score (and others who
play with him can’t either). “Why ruin a beautiful day when all
you care about is a number,” Ollie will say in his finest Irish lilt.
But then he said something that hit me right between the bags
under my eyes: “Now you’re that much closer to getting senior
rates at more golf courses.”
Unfortunately, he’s right. Watching “senior age” creep lower
in the golf industry has been a bone of contention of Pellucid
collaborator Stuart Lindsay for some time. And when we look
under the covers, what we find may convince you to increase the
senior age at your facility, or abandon senior rates altogether.
Pellucid pointed out in the 2013 State of the Industry report that 60% of all golf rounds are played by people age 50 and
over; and 48% of all rounds played are by people age 55 and
older. These percentages are not going to drop. In fact, they may
increase as golf continues to fail to attract younger customers.
More on that later.
In essence, discounted senior rates reward people who play
the most with lower rates. That may not be a bad thing based
on your market and other factors, but the question then becomes what is the best age for courses to establish for eligibility.
The philosophy behind senior rate discounts starts, or should
start, with the premise that people of a certain age have limited
income to spend on discretionary activities like golf. If correct,
is that at age 55? 60? 62? 65? Or even older? Who was the first
to decide 55 was the right age, and what did this person use to
support that decision? My guess is that the age creep to lower
numbers was fueled by the pervasive follow-the-leader mentality found in the golf industry. “Hey, my competitor down the
street just lowered his senior age to 39 – I’d better too.” Thank
you, Jack Benny.
Taking Ollie’s statement further, I wondered who defines
the age of seniority? The most logical would be the Social Se-
curity age when we qualify for benefits – 62. AARP, what my
lovely wife calls “the senior discount wonderland,” notifies us
(over and over and over) at 50 that we not only can or should
retire, but that by joining their legions we can obtain discounts
by the boatload and thus tuck more of our hard earned cash
into our 401k’s and IRA’s.
I looked at senior ages in other industries, to see what I
might look forward to and benefit from. Most major airlines,
including United, Southwest and American, have discounted
fares for seniors age 65 and older. But if you fly Bearskin Airlines in Canada (it’s true – check it out), you can get a discounted senior rate at age 50.
Greyhound’s senior age is 62. Hyatt, Holiday Inn, DoubleTree, and Marriot are 62. La Quinta has the oldest at 65, and
Starwood and Wyndham the youngest at 50. Best Western is
55, and Motel 6 and Radisson are 60.
Want senior discount movie tickets? The most common age
to qualify is 62. Want senior discount sporting event tickets?
There are some, although they are hard to find. Most commonly the age is 65. Many of the companies listed above, along with
all car rental companies and thousands of others offer AARP
member rates. Meaning at the end of the day, unless you just
don’t want to pay the AARP annual fee ($16 a year including a
spouse), discounts are prolific for those 50 and over.
How pervasive is the 55 senior designation? Mike Dickoff, CEO of GroupLooper.com, spent a good deal of time and
money examining public golf course websites to create a database not found anywhere else. He shared with us some numbers, including the senior age at nearly 4000 courses. Here are
% of courses
Taking the numbers from the chart above, more than 50%
of courses that have senior rates have decided that age 60 or
younger defines this ripe market. I have yet to see a golf course
offer AARP discounts, but after this article publishes, who
knows? But as a higher percentage of rounds are played by
The Pellucid PersPecTive
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - October 2013
The Pellucid Perspective - October 2013
Are golf ’s nonprofit “emperors” fiddling while Rome burns?
Seniors in their golden years, but are you?
A new determinant on “weather” golfers play or not?
Golf needs a voice in the regulatory process
September golf weather impact: Positive month caps positive Q3
Established SF courses leap-frog larger markets
ClubCorp IPO shares priced lower than expected at opening, rise 10% in debut
The show must go on
The Pellucid Perspective - October 2013