Gen Y Does Incentives Differently

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All the Hawaiian islands now offers ziplining.
All the Hawaiian islands now offer ziplining.

With Gen Y soon to dominate the workforce, hotel companies and tourist boards are crafting experiences with them in mind

“People used to collect labels and badges but Gen Y wants to collect experiences,” says Ed French, chief sales and marketing officer for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. His company has been focusing on apps and social media, allowing users to share what they call “six-word wows” (inspired by Ernest Hemingway, who bragged that he could write a story in six words); built Four Square into its app so users could swap experiences; and created a hashtag, #RCMemories, for Twitter users to do the same.

We spoke with some of the destination marketers attending IMEX about how they, too, are developing programs for this generation. Richard Knight, marketing manager, The Americas, at Visit Scotland, was quick to point out that 2015 will be “The Year of Food and Drink.” Planners can take advantage of numerous opportunities to include the local bounty, from seafood to whiskeys, in their menus. And don’t forget that Scotland has 17 Michelin–starred restaurants.

Tracy Haliwell, director of London Convention Bureau & major events at London & Partners, also focused on themes on which planners could piggyback, such as the just-opened Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the Museum of London. “It’s a one-time event they can work into their programs.” The younger generation still visits London for its culture, she says, but they want to combine the classics with cool, trendy hotels and activities such as immersive theater, treasure hunts or sporting events.

Even in laid-back Hawaii, itineraries are shifting to include activities such as high-adrenaline ziplining. CSR activities are important to Gen Y’ers, and one such option is a tree planting on the Big Island. Groups helicopter in to the Hawaiian Legacy Forest on the slopes of Mauna Kea for a 45-minute tree planting tour. There, Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods has planted more than 250,000 koa, sandalwood and other rare Hawaiian species to permanently reforest the area.

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.