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Guns and Hoteliers: Good Ideas? Wait for It!
by Marion Hughes-Roger
The hospitality technological ecosphere has at least five key trade associations, whose order listed here does not in any way imply importance or preference to HER Consulting (although in full disclosure, our President, Evelyne S Oreskovich, was one of the founders of HEDNA).
Lately, there's chatter within all these groups about the future with a particular focus on recruiting the next generation of hospitality employees. Various laudable initiatives have been noted over the past 6 months, and we are taking take a look at who is doing what and asking our loyal readers (YOU!) to think outside the proverbial big box and consider benchmarking. Wait til you hear against who!
Strong organizations recognize the importance of learning from best practices that have been achieved by other organizations and benchmarking is a solid way to go. Remember, the entity or movement used in a benchmarking study does not have to be related in any way, shape, or form to the entity or organization doing the research.
While writing the strategic plan for membership drive of the NYC Chapter of HSMAI (disclosure: I am Director of Membership) I noted (frankly with quite a bit of disgust) the New York Times front page exposé of the deliberate decision by the firearms industry to pour millions of dollars into a broad campaign to ensure its future by getting guns into the hands of more, and younger, children. This really is a perfect (albeit disturbing and probably some of you reading this will feel far-fetched) benchmarking case.
We can debate gun legislation endlessly (along with the morality / value of putting a Bushmaster AR-15 in the hands of twelve year old kids) but in all fairness, the approach to building the next generation is totally germane. They are working to plow the ground for the future gun owners, teaching them weaponry skills they claim have real value.
Whether you agree or not with the their approach is irrelevant. What IS relevant is their use of deploying creative tactics to get young members into associations that have been built by prior generations. So we ask here today: what are we (The Hospitality and Hotel Technology Industry) REALLY doing to grow future members? What can we learn from this front page examination of gun and shooting associations? Here are few ideas for us:
Mine Collegiate Chapters: Certain associations have collegiate level chapters which allow us to really engage with current and future college graduates in hotel management and hospitality. The NYC chapter of HSMAI goes beyond offering discounts / free passes to students in hotel and tourism schools in the city (and of course, Cornell) who attend their monthly luncheons. They go beyond selling discounted student membership for only $60/yr (if you join for 3 years.) Now, HSMAI NYC chapter is reaching out to hotel and hospitality programs (with and without chapters) around the world to point out to both faculty and students that HSMAI is a valuable resource during the pre-graduation job search. NYC will also suggest graduates feel free to transfer their student member affiliation to the HSMAI chapter of the location where they would MOST LIKE to live upon graduation.
Cross pollinate: Some other ideas we have heard include cross association membership breaks on specific alliances such as MPI and HSMAI. This would include membership in multiple associations with their fees for one.
Visit Alumni Groups: Most alumni groups have chapters in main metropolitan areas. And many grads (both recent AND aged) are keenly active with these chapters. As a Penn State Grad I can vouch for the NY and NJ chapters' activity!) On top of that, most hospitality programs (including the Penn State School of Hospitality Management) ALSO have active alumni sub-groups. Let's go meet them and present our organizations-the members are ideal for mentoring new grads and it will really promote membership in our associations!
Sponsor and Fund: You are probably thinking "Oh come on! The gun industry has some seriously deep pockets. We are just not for profit trade associations!" Yeah...we hear you! Yes the aggressive youth marketing initiatives mentioned in Sunday's NYT cost A LOT of money. But they have sponsors- serious funding from the gun manufacturers. Let's take a moment and think how we can imitate them... (donating funds to encourage kids to shoot guns and enjoy it may or may not seem reprehensible to you, but it is a valid idea from a recruitment standpoint.) When we next approach industry partners for sponsorships at annual events and conferences, instead of funding a white paper on "Next Gen Internet Booking gine options (that will be out of date by the time it's published) ask for funding to seed the "NextGen Member Program".
That sponsorship may turn out to be some of the best spend we can make. And after all, no one likes to miss a target!!
Source: HER Consulting
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