There may be generational differences in the meetings industry, but there are still key elements that all agree on

There may be generational differences in the meetings industry, but there are still key elements that all agree on

In March 2012 the MPI Foundation produced a report on addressing the needs of various generations titled, “A Meeting Industry Take On Generation Y,” which brings up several interesting trends in dealing with the four generations currently in the workforce:

  • Matures (1925 – 1945): This generation values family, patriotism and consistency.
  • Baby Boomers (1945 – 1964): Described as idealistic, diligent and excellent mentors.
  • Generation X (1965  1980): Strong emphasis on professional development, and prefers flexible schedules and freedom in the workplace.
  • Generation Y (1981  mid-1990s): Also referred to as Millenials, this generation is similar to Matures in their values, but as the most technologically literate of the four generations, prefer collaboration through technology.

Eugene Bike Path by Jamie Hooper -

Of course, as a destination marketer, I honed in on the study’s finding on generational preferences when it comes to destinations and hotels. The survey identified the differences between the current generations of meeting professionals versus Generation Y. The results concluded that meeting professionals prefer venues with easy access to outdoor activities, such as walking trails. While this group also favors upscale venues, these luxury settings do not necessarily influence their attendance. On the other hand, Gen Y’ers want mid-level priced hotels with nearby shopping and nightlife. Ironically, the Gen Y’ers also want kid-friendly options. All the generations surveyed agreed that lower-cost lodging options are more important than luxury when deciding whether or not to attend a conference.

Hmmm, I think to myself, our destination appeals to all generations. Our walk and bike friendly paths are within steps of our major convention hotels (Eugene, in fact, is a gold-level “Walk Friendly Community” ). Our hotel rates are an incredible value. Shopping and nightlife are nearby (shopping is tax-free in Oregon too!). And, we’re renowned for family-friendly venues. Think sandcastle building, first fishing trip, snow tubing, visiting a pumpkin patch or local farm, or learning to geocache.

What I gleaned from the study is to think about all of your potential meeting attendees – what they like, what they don’t like, how they communicate, how they learn. These are all questions that a DMO sales professional can help you answer about a potential host city.