It’s safe to say the youth generation represents the future of the association community. Often, they are enthusiasts, full of out-of-the-box ideas, and innovation – those that older members should sometimes listen to, but don’t.
There are lots of different ways you can engage and involve young people in organisations. These don’t have to be limited to formal, structured processes. In fact, less formal approaches are sometimes better. Creating a range of different opportunities will help build relationships with young people and make them feel they can contribute.
Whilst many associations do already offer discounted, or even free, membership to this group, that is not always enough to truly pique their interest and begin building engagement with the association. It may not seem a significant issue to most organizations considering the other generations make up most of their membership, however appealing to the youth of today can help secure and grow the membership of tomorrow.
When aiming to attract younger delegates to an association conference, the typical rhetoric tends to revolve around how it will benefit their professional development through the learning they will experience, the opportunities to meet the experts and the value in the networking – which most of the time happens, for sure.
However, it might be a good idea to change the focus – why can’t, indeed, the older members learn from the younger ones? Should conferences provide platforms for the youth to have a voice and shape the future of the industry the association represents?
Accelerated leadership program
This is exactly what AIPC’s Future Shapers project aimed to achieve. Designed as a nine-month accelerated leadership program, it ended with a bang at the AIPC Annual Conference earlier this week in Budapest when two teams of young convention centre professionals competed to convince the industry’s CEOs and leaders to invest in and choose their solutions to challenges currently faced by the industry.
Team EventShaper presented their collaboration and event management portal built by venue experts for event management professionals. The aim of the portal is to provide an integrated, end to end service platform that includes booking, communication, event design and account management planning tools using real time data — all in one place.
Meanwhile, Team Optimum came up with a venue business optimization solution to assist sales teams within convention venues to streamline approval processes and reduce resources needed for RFPs.
Both teams were then judged by a panel and the audience at the conference and the result was a tie – which came as a surprise for most of the participants after all the well-orchestrated suspense. Both ideas have, indeed, received interest from venue and technology suppliers to the industry to invest in their ideas.
Part of Team EventShaper, Saba Al Azki, of the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, told Boardroom: “I really enjoyed working on this leadership program, the first of its kind for AIPC. It was at first not really easy because all the on boarding took place online, and we didn’t know each other. But when the idea of our portal was agreed on and the roles of each of us were clearly defined, progress was made efficiently and fluidly. I really feel we achieved something that will be be valuable to our industry, and I’m happy to have been able to contribute to some legacy-leaving!”
A feeling that was echoed by AIPC Chairman Greg O’Dell, who said: “Not only have we (with this program) created a hugely beneficial resource to our members, the outstanding ideas presented at the conference will also leave a meaningful legacy for our industry at large.”