Meet the Millennials: The Next Generation of Meeting Attendees They're technology-savvy, team-oriented, and more optimistic about their future than the generations before them. Known as the "Millennials," or "Generation Y," in four years they'll enter the workforce in numbers greater than any demographic group since the Baby Boomers.
Generational expert Robert Wendover, president of Aurora, Colo.based Leadership Resources, believes that growing up in a culture dominated by entertainment and technology has set the Millennials apart from past generations:"The standard Millennial wears a beeper to school."
Because they were raised on MTV-style programs, says Wendover, Millennials also have very short attention spans. This means that to grab their attention, meetings will have to become more interactive and entertaining, and incorporate the latest technology. "To them, a speaker is like TV. If he's boring, after three or four minutes a Millennial will take the shortest distance to the nearest door."
Generational historian William Strauss, who is writing a book about the generation born after 1981, believes that because this group has grown up in an era of prosperity, they lack Generation X's cynicism about corporate America. "They have a very positive collective self-image," he says. "They feel they have a lot to offer." He adds that because today's schools stress teamwork, Millennials probably will prefer group activities such as peer-led training, or incentive trips with their peers.
A 1997 Drexel University survey of 2,000 15- to 17-year-olds offers other insights. Eighty percent of the Millennials polled believe they will be better off financially than their parents, and one-third believe the glass ceiling for women will be shattered. When asked for the keys to success, working in a team and getting along with members of different ethnic groups ranked higher than communication or leadership skills.
* SHRINKING LEAD TIMES It's not uncommon for Thomas Smith, director of meetings and events at Health Net, a Woodland Hills, Calif.based HMO, to get a call on a Monday morning to put together a meeting by Friday.
Smith expects 90 percent of the more than 700 meetings he will plan this year will be organized in less than six weeks. These impromptu get-togethers might include anywhere from 10 to 200 people and last one or two days.
For Smith and others in his position, lead times have shrunk dramatically in the past few years. "It's not that people aren't organizing or thinking ahead," he says. "The reality is that business is changing so quickly. We need to be even more flexible, patient, and organized."
Smith and three others in his department use a combination of old and new methods to meet their deadlines. He consults his huge Rolodex of suppliers, his co-workers surf the Internet to gather information, and when he's really buried, he hires site selection companies to scope out possible venues.
Smith says he uses site selection companies primarily for research, to get him availability and rate information within 48 hours. Other resources, from the numerous "hot dates" sites on the Web to the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau's interactive Web site, www.meetingpath.com, have sprung up from this need for immediately available information. This site also lets companies create and e-mail RFPs to more than 3,500 suppliers, 350 of which are hotels. As Greater Boston CVB Director of Tourism Larry Meehan described it: "It's real time. It allows people to get a response not even overnight, but often within minutes or hours. That's what it's all about."
Fred Shea, vice president of sales operations for Hyatt Hotels, believes technology is both a solution to and a cause of short lead times. "Transactions now move so much faster that people have confidence in booking short term," he says.
In reponse, Hyatt installed software that gives every sales manager up-to-the-minute room availability, created a short-term booking form, and even hired more meeting service staff.
* A CHANGING INDUSTRY
Consolidation: What Does It Mean for Incentives?
A t a recent workshop at the Princess Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., The Society of Incentive and Travel Executives brought together six industry spokespersons, from left: Bruce Smith, general manager of midwest business for the McGettigan Company; Bob Kirkland co-founder of Global Events Partners; J.J. Gubbins, vice president for global incentive sales, Starwood Hotels; Tina Harmon, managing director of business group travel for Maritz Travel Company; J. Peter Huestis, senior vice president/group publisher, Corporate Meetings & Incentives; and Chris White, co-founder of Global Events Partners. "Don't be overwhelmed by consolidation," said Gubbins. "Things are changing, but not necessarily for the worse."
According to Huestis, meetings can be a useful tool to help companies thrive in the new era of consolidation. He used the high-tech industry as an example:"We have identified 6,000 companies in the technical market alone that hold 20 or more meetings a year." --Terry Bledsoe
* MEETING COSTS Budget Busters for Meeting Travel
New York is the most expensive city in the United States for business travelers, according to a 1999 survey by Runzheimer International, a Rochester, Wis.based consulting firm. Three meals and single business-class lodging cost an average of $380 per day in New York, as opposed to $102 per day in Davenport, Iowa or Moline, Ill., the least-expensive cities.
Rolfe Shellenberger, senior travel consultant at Runzheimer, attributes the survey results to supply and demand--the cities in the U. S. with the highest hotel occupancy rates also have the highest room rates.
* MEETING MANAGEMENT * ASIA/PACIFIC NEWS On Site at AIME For the first time since its inception eight years ago, the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME '99), held at the Melbourne Exhibition & Conference Center (MECC), accepted exhibitors outside the Asia Pacific region, resulting in a record number of attendees--nearly 3,000.
At a forum held the day before the expo, industry experts encouraged meeting organizers to take advantage of the currency exchange rates in the region and the willingness of hotels and ancillary services to "make a deal." They predicted this buyer's market to continue for the next few years. --Jonathan Kean
Hot Prices in Hong Kong "If you're ever going to hold a meeting in Hong Kong, now is the time to do it. The prices are never going to be as good as they are now," says Krys Luby, marketing executive, Hong Kong Tourist Association.
About 40 hotels have signed on to the HKTA's Value Plus program, promising discounts of up to 50 percent on room rates, with prices guaranteed through 2000. For information visit www.hkta. org/usa, or call (312) 329-1828.
* CORRECTIONS *On page 144 of April CMI, we inadvertently printed incorrect information about the Eldorado Hotel in Santa Fe and the Hilton of Santa Fe. The Eldorado is ideally suited for groups of 10 to 450. It features 219 luxurious guest rooms and suites and 18,000 square feet of function space. The Hilton has more than 7,000 square feet of meeting space. See page 157 in this issue for more information on both properties.
FYI Hotel Industry News * Former Rosewood Hotels & Resorts chairman (and past chair of Preferred Hotels & Resorts) Atef Mankarios has formed a new luxury hotel brand known as Forest Hills Hotels & Resorts, which will own and manage 25 upscale hotels in cities including Boston, Miami, Chicago, and New York.
* Patriot American Hospitality Inc. has merged into its operating arm, Wyndham International Inc., and changed from a real estate investment trust (REIT) into a tax-paying corporation. Patriot founder Paul Nussbaum has stepped down from his role as CEO and handed over control to Wyndham International CEO James Carreker.
* After purchasing Delta Hotels and Resorts last spring and Princess Hotels last summer, Toronto-based Canadian Pacific Hotels recently completed an agreement to combine forces with Fairmont Hotel Management, which manages six properties with the Fairmont name (including those in San Francisco, New Orleans, and Chicago), as well as The Plaza in New York City.
* Although tourism in Jamaica slowed down briefly in mid-April due to riots over an increase in the gasoline tax, business has returned to normal. Groups have an increasing selection of luxurious all-inclusive properties. The SuperClubs chain is constructing theHedonism II resort to open this fall and expanding the elegant Grand Lido Sans Souci. At Sandals, they're expanding the spa amenities to include European-style treatments and spa menus.
New for CEOs: Counterterrorism Camp David Geliebter recently spent nine days firing automatic weapons, opening letter bombs, and being poisoned. Geliebter, chairman of Carson Group, a New Yorkbased international research firm, was being trained by Elmwood Park, N. J.based International Training Group (ITG) at a counterterrorism camp for CEOs and corporate executives.
The $3,000 program teaches self-defense, skills to prevent electronic eavesdropping, and how to fire handguns, shotguns, and automatic weapons. "We have them fire these weapons because you never know what an assailant will be carrying," says ITG President Tom Patire.
Each 16-hour day begins at 6 a.m. and includes physical training as well as classes in such subjects as biological threats, electronic eavesdropping, and bomb detection.
Geliebter was amazed to learn how easy it is to steal information. "When I'm in a new surrounding, be it a hotel or a meeting room, I now have a greater awareness of what's going on."--Andrea Graham