Just as the under-30 crowd is influencing meeting planning,
they represent a substantial and growing proportion of supplier and
third-party ranks. Like their corporate and association peers, these
newcomers infuse the workplace with enthusiasm, fresh ideas, social
networking skills and a seemingly innate understanding of technology.
talked to newbies and managers across many industry sectors about how
the new guard is influencing the supplier side of the business.
The Typical Millennial Young professionals approach work differently than their predecessors. Some observations:
• They thrive on change.
"They can accept a lot of change, they can accept it quickly and they
can accept it often," says Scott Castleman, 40, director of client
services at technology provider Cvent in Mclean, Va. This is true of
day-to-day tasks as well as their career trajectories. "They're OK with
making sudden changes to their careers," Castleman says, "and with a
regularity and frequency that would have put someone from my generation
in the loony bin."
The same characteristic that allows the
under-30 set to excel in a fast-paced environment also can make them
impatient when change doesn't come. The contrast to Castleman's own
experience as a Gen-Xer is significant: "I think there was a greater
sense then that you would work in a stable environment, under a stable
set of goals, under a stable center of authority, with a stable set of
But that trait poses one of the biggest
challenges to managers, notes Kevin Iwamoto, vice president of
enterprise strategy for Philadelphia-based StarCite. "The loyalty of the
youngest generation is going to be slim to none," he says. "So how do
we communicate, train and keep these people happy so they don't jump
• They listen to their hearts. The inclination to
job hop can be motivated by idealism. "Our generation wants to work at
jobs we believe in," explains StarCite's Jessie Berry, a 25-year-old
marketing coordinator. "If we're not emotionally invested in a job and
really passionate about what we're doing, there's going to be a lack of
Companies need to recognize the importance of a
corporate social responsibility policy or a green policy to young
employees, says Iwamoto: "Those things mean a lot to that generation. If
a company doesn't fulfill that obligation in their minds, they'll move
on. If you want to retain good talent, you've got to look beyond the
traditional compensation model."
• Tech prowess comes naturally.
Young professionals' ease with all things technical is universally
admired. And it's not only important to their employers, but to clients,
notes Jim Ruszala, director of marketing at Fenton, Mo.-based Maritz
Travel. "Clients have an expectation that we are up on the latest trends
and tools," he says. Young staffers help.
In fact, newbies can
lend their skills to higher-ups. At the Greater Phoenix Convention &
Visitors Bureau, young employees might be called upon to help senior
management better understand social media tools, or to show them how to
use their iPads, says a bureau source.
Social media prowess is
highly valued, too, adds Michael Dominguez, vice president of global
sales for Loews Hotels and Resorts. "We can teach them how to be more
effective in a room of 3,000 people when they need to network," he says,
"but they can teach us how to keep that dialogue and conversation going
when we're out of the room."
Even a tech-based company such as
Cvent exploits the generational expertise of its youngest employees.
"Our technology team makes us do user-testing of new mobile
applications," explains Elena Werth, 26, a senior trainer in Cvent's
training and development department. "They're asking for our advice on
ways to make it more user-friendly for our clients to set up their
registration processes right from their smartphones."
• They text vs. talk.
The ever-present cellphone is not for talking anymore. Young employees
use text messaging as a primary means of communication, notes Melissa
Poindexter, account and project manager at Chicago-based BCD Meetings
& Incentives. "They're really reluctant to pick up the phone. It's
something I have to remind them to do, especially with clients."
also a pet peeve of Jordan Clark's, who is vice president of sales at
Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas: "Their natural first inclination is
to reach for the pocket and text or tweet. I do think this generation
has a difficult time determining what should be communicated through
what vehicle. Sometimes they tweet, text or e-mail things that they
should speak with someone about, either by phone or face-to-face."
• They don't unplug.
They can juggle e-mail, social media and phone calls simultaneously --
and nearly round the clock. That's partly the nature of the business,
but the difference is, "Millennials just don't have stress from being
connected 24/7 like you and I do," muses Cvent's Castleman. "It's how
they're wired. It's all just part of their lives. At the end of the day,
I want to shut it all off. We make a big deal out of taking a vacation
and getting disconnected, but they're quite comfortable with being
connected into all of it almost 24 hours a day."
• They're responsive.
"In this day and age, business is happening so quickly," says
23-year-old Jeni Wilson, a Las Vegas-based sales manager with Caesars
Entertainment. "Because of the economy and the events happening around
us, business is being booked shorter term. People don't have the budget
or the knowledge to book programs for 2015, they're booking programs for
two weeks from now. And because it's two weeks from now, they need
their answers right now. In order to capture that business, you have to
be on top of it. You have to be able to respond as quickly as possible.
You have to have three e-mails open at a time and know what's going on
with each of them."
Business practices are likely to change
based on the way young employees communicate -- on the customer side as
well, adds StarCite's Iwamoto. For example, while service-level
agreements typically promise customers a response within 24 hours, "This
generation doesn't want to wait for a phone call or fax. They want a
tweet or some kind of immediate answer back."
• They're hungry for knowledge.
One "huge benefit" of the under-30 set, according to Jordan Clark from
Caesars, is their willingness to learn. "It's a cornerstone of their
culture," he says. "Their curiosity is just insatiable all the time."
They want to understand why things are done in a certain fashion. "They
are not afraid of asking questions," Clark adds. "These are not 'yes'
Denise Dornfeld, senior vice president for five
AlliedPRA Southern California offices, lauds young staffers for their
research skills. "They jump into any project; if they don't know how to
do something or need more information, they go online and get the
answers. What they may lack in experience they make up for in their
• Praise is key. Young team members
require a lot of encouragement, note a number of sources. "They thrive
on a lot of feedback," explains Greg Leonard, general manager of the
Grand HyattDenver. "In the past, a lot of managers would operate along
the lines of, 'If I don't tell you anything, you're doing a good job.'
You can't really do that with this generation. You need to make sure
you're giving them strong positive feedback and coaching them for
• They want to race up the ladder. "Titles mean a
lot to them," says Tony Napoli, CMP, DCMP, president of Briggs Inc., a
New York City-based destination management firm. "They don't like the
term 'assistant,' and they aren't shy about seeking promotions."
• Time is money.
This group takes their social life seriously. They want to be kinder to
themselves than the Baby Boomers, finding ways to be productive at work
so they can enjoy social time, notes one DMC executive. "What motivates
them is time off, personal time and flexible hours," observes Tony
• They explore their surroundings. Staff at all
levels of the Greater Phoenix CVB rely on their young colleagues'
knowledge of hot new restaurants, bars and clubs in downtown. "They tell
us what's in and out and where to send clients," the spokesperson