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How Successful Is the Warner Leisure Hotel Business Model of Targeting the Third Age Market

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How successful is the Warner Leisure Hotel business model of targeting the Third Age market?

Although holiday camps have been in existence in the UK since the early 1900s, their prominence in the hospitality industry was not established until the 1950s. Holiday camps thrived until the availability of package tours in the 1970s, where due to a subsequent decrease in demand, many were closed down shortly afterwards (Ward and Hardy, 1984). Warner Leisure Hotels identified a potential opportunity in concentrating on one particular sector (Mintel, 2013), the Third Age market. Carr and Komp (2011) describe the Third Age as the period of life which occurs after retirement but prior to the onset of disability, in which individuals are capable of remaining actively engaged.
Warner initially launched a marketing campaign “Just for Adults”, in order to attract their target clientele, and cater for guests over the age of 21 only. Warner now run 13 hotels and resorts in various countryside and coastal locations across the UK (Warner Leisure Hotels, 2013).Their hotels are historical or grade I and II listed buildings which appeal to this market, and have manicured gardens with pathways suited for short walks to take exercise. Short breaks of either three or four days are offered, tied in with coach packages for ease of transportation. Guest hosts are employed to encourage guests to participate in a range of group activities such as swimming, bowls, archery and ballroom dancing. Furthermore, in 2011 a deal was signed with the BBC to offer Strictly Come Dancing Experience Breaks, where guests are entertained by professional ballroom dancers and participate in a dancing competition (Berman, 2010). As Haboush et al (2006) suggest, this style of dancing and music are familiar to the Third Age demographic and is therefore designed to increase comfort and enjoyment. The range of leisure activities offered clearly demonstrates that Warner believe activity in later life is essential for aging well and that the older generation benefit from engaging with society and with each other (Gibson and Singleton, 2012).
Breaks are offered subject to pricing strategies, for example an upgrade to a Signature package denotes a larger room and an upgrade of restaurant, therefore options are provided for a range of budgets. Food and drink choices are dependent on the type of package booked, ranging from standard restaurant to fine dining. A “single diner” strategy is adopted, whereby any guests who are lone visitors are seated together in the restaurant and conversation is encouraged by staff. Warners website is clearly designed with their target customers in mind, text is large and the website is very clear and simple to navigate around, as the Third Age market are the least proficient in the use of computers and the internet.
Targeting the Third Age market has proved to be a successful business model for Warner Leisure, as they have clearly identified what their customer wants in terms of level of service, the location and type of building, new experiences and leisure options, and have responded and tailored their breaks accordingly. Warner Leisure Hotels (2013) state that in 2011 Warners were voted the UK’s favourite short-break chain hotel, ahead of Hilton hotels, and enjoy a 95% occupancy rate. Given that, as Leitner and Leitner (2004) suggest, the older population is projected to increase, the future looks bright for the growth of Warner resorts.…...

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