Remember Tiger Woods? While golf's injured supernova has been sitting on the sidelines, Millennials like Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson have moved to the forefront of the game signaling an upcoming seismic shift in the sport on and off the course.
Millennials, who range in age 16 to 34 years of age, are just beginning to make their impact on golf and travel. If you're involved in either one of these industries, or both, I highly suggest you start preparing for the onslaught of the Snapchat and smoothies generation. There are 79 million of them in the U.S. and they spend $600 billion dollars a year. In five years, the oldest of the generation will be pushing 40.
Here are 10 top Millennial trends important to the golf and travel industries:
1. Social Media is an amazing Millennial influencer--Whether it's viewing a dramatic picture on Instagram or reading a favorable tweet about a hotel or golf course on Twitter, Millennials are heavily influenced by reviews and comments on social media. Quite simply, if you want to reach Millennials and impact their golf and travel decisions, a strong presence on social media is absolutely imperative. It's estimated that 75% of Millennials post while they're on vacation. If you want to reach Millennials, you can forget about old school paper brochures, newspaper travel articles and cheesy magazine ads.
3. Millennial golf trends--While the Baby Boomers cry was "Let's Play 36!", Millennials are more prone to saying "Let's Play Golf in Many Different Ways." Increasingly popular are playing nine holes or less, pay-by-hole, night golf and golf simulator competitions. Many Millennial golfers don't want to be locked into the traditional 18-hole golf experience. A hugely popular off-site golf activity, Topgolf entertainment complexes appeal to tech-addicted Millennials with point-scored electronic golf games that anyone, regardless of skill level, can play. In a plush sports-bar-style environment, players hit a golf ball containing a personalized microchip into a series of targets ranging from 20 to 240 yards away. Topgolf, which has an upscale food and beverage menu and can host group events, has locations that include Scottsdale, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Houston and Austin, Texas, and Alexandria, Va. A new, expansive Topgolf is under construction in Orlando, Florida.
4. What Millennials LIKE at resorts and hotels--There are an increasing number of hotel chains such as Aloft, W, Kimpton and Hyatt Centric that cater directly to Millennial needs. Millennials desire large spacious lobbies where they can spread out and lounge with their electronic devices, coffee bars, lounges with big selections of craft beers, sports bars teeming with large screen televisions, lawn games like corn hole and bocce ball, a large number of charging stations in the lobby and hotel common areas, outdoor lounging spaces with comfy chairs, couches and connectivity and healthy food choices.
5. What Millennials don't like at resorts and hotels--They DISLIKE hotels that charge for Wifi, don't have mobile check-in and don't have texting communication with guests. Millennials also could care less about a mini-bar, pillow chocolates, old school coffee makers, overpriced room service, iPod docking stations and a newspaper in front of the door.
6. How Millennials select destinations, hotels and restaurants--This is HUGE. Traditional advertisements aren't nearly as effective with Millennials. Millennials rely on each other's opinions on social media to make travel decisions. Instead of a flashy ad or video, Millennials are more likely to access user-generated recommendations on popular review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Airbnb and Oyster to help make their travel decisions.
7. New Millennial amenities at golf resorts--The traditional golf cart is evolving to appeal to Millennials. In Scottsdale, Ariz., the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa offers specially designed Segways to ride and transport clubs on their golf courses. Resorts such as Tetherow in Bend, Ore., Boyne Highlands in Michigan and Princeville at Hanalei on the island of Lanai in Hawaii feature Golfboards, an easy-to-ride electric board equipped to carry clubs that allows golfers to surf the fairways and feels similar to snowboarding, surfing and skateboarding. Millennials love food trucks and you'll increasingly see them at resorts. The PGA National Resort in Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and Ocean Reef Club and Resort in the Florida Keys now have food trucks.
8. Popular Millennial golf and sports activities at resorts--It's becoming increasingly clear that Millennials will consume the game of golf much differently than Boomers. Fitness is an integral part of the Millennial lifestyle so it's not surprising that pursuits like Footgolf, a hybrid game of soccer and golf on the course, has caught on. Resorts like Crystal Springs in New Jersey, French Lick Resort in Indiana and TreeTops Resort in Michigan offer Footgolf. You also see an increasing number of Millennials jogging on golf cart paths early in the morning before the course opens.
9. Millennials love to validate their experiences on social media-The "If you didn't post it, it didn't happen" generation love to tell their friends and family about their travel experiences on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare and other platforms.
10. Millennials want more connectivity everywhere--It's a no brainer that hotels better have great connectivity, but Millennials also want to be connected on the golf course, too. While many Boomers find it annoying, Millennials don't want to turn off their cell phones on the golf course. Some golf resorts are responding with charging stations on golf carts, increased Wifi access and golf apps.