Page 8 - World Airshow May-Jun 2019
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                                            A New Brew?

                            I   n the January/February issue of   er fans weren’t there for the golf at all. The golf tournament was
                                                                  That’s when it dawned on me that many (most?) of the young-
                                this  magazine, I  wrote  about  the
                                                               just the place to see and be seen that weekend in Charlotte. It was
                                importance of attracting more
                                Millennials to airshows. I noted   a place to go to drink, socialize, and have fun. The golf was just
                             the aging demographics of the average   something going on in the background.
                             airshow attendee over the last 20 years,   As I looked even closer, I noticed there were food trucks, beer
                             and then listed some ideas presented   tents complete with bar stools, a vodka bar, and other trendy
                             at the 2018 ICAS Convention to make   food and beverage venues at strategic locations around the golf
                             airshows more appealing to a younger   course that were attracting even larger groups of mostly young
                             audience.                         patrons. I actually wondered if some of those folks would even
                               A few months later, I attended an-  watch a single golf shot during their day at the tournament.
                             other event that, based purely on cur-  My observations at the Wells Fargo Championship also re-
                             rent trends and demographics, should   minded me of a couple of the bullet point ideas from ICAS 2018
        also have difficulty attracting a younger crowd – a PGA golf tour-  that I mentioned in my January column:
        nament. I love to play golf, and I also love to watch it played by
        the best players in the world. Every May, the PGA Tour comes to   •  Make your airshow a cool place for Millennials to be seen
        Charlotte for the Wells Fargo Championship at beautiful Quail   with their peers.
        Hollow Country Club, located about 25 minutes or so from my
        home.                                                    •  Enhance food and drink options with healthier, Millennial-
           Over the last ten years or so, the golf industry has been on a   friendly choices, craft beer, and food trucks.
        steady decline, fueled by the aging of golf-playing baby boom-
        ers like me, and the failure of younger people to start playing the   The Wells Fargo Championship organizers did both of those
        game at the same rate as their elders. Over 800 golf courses have   things, and Millennials came in droves to an event that, based
        closed in America over the last decade.                purely on demographic trends, they shouldn’t have had much in-
           According to a report a couple of years ago in The Washington   terest in. Who knows how many of those young fans will ever
        Post, the number of young people, aged 18-35, playing golf has   pick up a golf club of their own? Nevertheless, they came to the
        dropped by 35 percent over the last decade. Millennials seems to   event, had a great time, and maybe came away with a more posi-
        prefer more active sports like running, cycling, or extreme sports   tive impression of golf.
        (plus they spend a lot more time on their phones and social me-  That’s why I was pleased to get a news release that same week
        dia). Many Millennials find a four or five hour round of golf too   from John Cowman’s JLC AirShow Management announcing
        time consuming and slow for their fast-paced lifestyles.  that the 2019 Wings Over North Georgia Airshow, scheduled
           So, as I was walking around the beautifully-manicured   for Labor Day weekend in Rome, will feature the Wings Over
        grounds of Quail Hollow Club the first weekend in May, I started   North Georgia Craft Beer Garden experience, offering a selec-
        looking around at the patrons in attendance (yes, golf tourna-  tion of craft beers from several local Georgia beer makers. Pre-
        ments prefer the term “patrons” to “spectators”). I immediately   mium food, beverages, and desserts will be available adjacent to
        noticed something interesting. For a sport that is supposedly hav-  the beer garden. A $49 ticket is required for this special airshow
        ing a hard time attracting Millennials, there were certainly a lot   viewing area, but it also includes airshow admission and one craft
        of Millennials walking around the grounds with me. Everywhere   beer or glass of wine. Additional amenities will include a large
        I looked – especially on Saturday – there were groups of young   TV viewing area, cornhole and other games, air-conditioned re-
        people walking, talking, socializing, drinking beer or cocktails,   strooms, and live acoustic music prior to and following the daily
        and seemingly having a fantastic day at the tournament.  airshow performances.
           But as I looked closer, I noticed something else. Very few of   While the folks who go to a golf tournament mainly for the
        these young patrons appeared to be watching a lot of golf. Most   beer and socializing can easily avoid watching any golf if they
        of us Boomer patrons were crowded along the rope lines trying   so desire, at an airshow, we have one very important advantage.
        to get the best view we could of Rory McIlroy trying to hole a   Even if you are there mainly to drink the beer, it will be very
        30-foot putt or Phil Mickelson trying to make a great recovery   hard to ignore the USAF F-16 demo and the AeroShell Aerobat-
        out of a green-side bunker. The young people, on the other hand,   ic Team flying overhead. Maybe John Cowman can use his beer
        were farther back, socializing, taking selfies, meeting friends, and   garden to brew a few new airshow fans.
        drinking lots of beer.

                                      8  May/June 2019
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