Meeting planners that want to appeal to young people, but aren't sure how, should consider the example of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), which last week hosted a special meeting that was tailor-made for Generations X and Y — those born between 1965 and 1976, and 1976 and 1994, respectively.
The ICCA Research, Sales & Marketing Program, which took place in Gdansk, Poland, from July 6-9, hosted 115 delegates from 33 countries in Asia, Africa, North America and Europe, most of whom represented the youngest generations of junior to mid-level managers and client-facing executives from venues, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and professional conference organizers (PCOs). The goal: to present a highly personalized event that would engage young attendees with one-on-one programming.
"These generations are known to be highly educated and independent, are seekers of new and personalized experiences, and are ready to contribute," ICCA explained in a news release about the event.
To respond to the needs of young attendees, ICCA:
• Allowed delegates to make one-on-one appointments with members;
• Allowed delegates to schedule one-on-one sessions with ICCA researchers to get customized answers to their specific marketing and research questions, as well as personalized advice on their own real-life work projects.
• Organized "how-to" education sessions on topics such as selling and branding a destination, success and failure in bidding for international association events, building successful client relationships, social media and PR, and presentation skills. One session — a four-part "Request for Proposal to bid" presentation — took delegates through a detailed group task designed to illustrate every key phase of the bidding process for international association meetings.
• Created a "Business Exchange" where delegates could share background details on potential meetings with fellow participants.
Said attendee Alexander Klimes of the Prague Convention Bureau, "Before the event I was a bit sarcastic about the sharing and the networking which the ICCA Program promised to deliver, and I was expecting to be a hidden participant who was about to be brainwashed with education sessions, but this time indeed I actively shared and networked with my fellow participants as never imagined before. I made some great new friends, and I feel like I became part of an ICCA family."