Members of the 80 million-strong Generation Y, born between the late 1970s and mid-1990s, might not yet be a large part of your meetings, but they soon will be. They are the fastest-growing generation in the work force, according to Rob Davidson, senior lecturer in business travel and tourism at London's University of Westminster.
Davidson and Jason Dorsey, an Austin, Texas-based speaker and author on Gen Y topics (not to mention a member), have recommendations for planners who increasingly will find themselves catering to this crowd.
• "We don't expect to stay in one industry for our entire career," 31-year-old Dorsey says. As such, corporate meetings should emphasize the myriad ways in which a skill can be used, rather than its application just for one company.
• Get a Gen Y member to evaluate your event's online presence, Davidson recommends. "They judge an event by the quality of its website -- and they don't like anything that looks clunky or dull," he notes.
• Regarding site selection, Dorsey says Gen Y is very lifestyle-driven. "For us to go to an off-site meeting," he explains, "we expect it to have something to experience while we are there. Gen Y is not satisfied with flying in, doing business and flying out again -- and they're right: That's a terrible way to live."
• Corporate social responsibility is a big motivator for Gen Y, Davidson asserts. "They are not happy with the slightly elitist approach of previous generations. They want to do something to make a difference."
And of course, Gen Y members always will want "party pics" from the event in question to be posted almost immediately.