To make meetings more inclusive and welcoming, it’s often a good idea to get all generations—young, seasoned, and somewhere in between—involved in the planning process. Here’s a look at how to do it with your young professionals.
Part of my role here at ASAE is working with some of our volunteer councils as an editorial liaison to get their input on topics that would make great articles for Associations Now Plus and our other content channels.
One of the groups I work with is our Young Professionals Committee. On monthly conference calls and in other conversations I have with members of that group, there’s a topic that comes up fairly frequently: why they deserve a seat at the table. In other words, these young pros want an opportunity to be involved, share their perspective, and make a difference.
You always hear that younger managers are your future, but we also believe they are our present.
So I was excited when I came across an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette earlier this week about VisitPittsburgh’s 2022 Committee.
The city’s convention and visitors bureau created the committee a few months ago as a way to give its millennial managers more responsibility. The committee, composed of four young professionals, is tasked with looking at the CVB’s marketing efforts as if it were 2022 and planning for the five years ahead. Then, at VisitPittsburgh’s board of directors meeting in January, the team will present its strategic 2023-2028 marketing plan.
In the article, Chief Marketing Officer Tom Loftus said that putting these millennials in charge has two purposes: to get its employees involved with strategic planning at a younger age and to use their perspective to better market the city to their fellow young professionals.
“We have so many talented young managers, so it will benefit us to get them involved in strategic planning early in their career,” he told Meetings Today in May. “You always hear that younger managers are your future, but we also believe they are our present.”
As someone who is beginning to age out of the young professionals bracket (gracefully, mind you), I love what VisitPittsburgh is doing for the reasons Loftus shared. I also think that it’s a great way for the CVB to give its young pros a voice and to help them really feel like they are contributing to the future of the industry.
The 2022 Committee idea is scalable for other CVBs and associations. For instance, if an organization is not yet comfortable with handing its future marketing efforts over to a group of millennials, it may instead consider adding at least one young professional to a meeting-related committee it already has. It could be as simple as having him or her be a part of the education session selection team. Or if an association is reimagining its meeting formats or discussing how to improve the meeting experience for attendees in the future, these young pros are sure to have lots to offer. After all, recent research shows that 89 percent of millennials have attended at least one live event in the past year.
How have you welcomed young professionals—whether staffers, members, or volunteers—into the meeting-planning process? Let us know in the comments.