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Using Your Resources such as Gen Y and Volunteers for Events

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Lack of funds or people should never be an event prohibitor, especially with the resource of generation y known as “the can-doers.”  In the June 2011 issue of Rejuvenate, the article “Energy Rush” discusses how the 2011 PCMA Convening Leaders conference in Las Vegas utilized 100 student volunteers from Harrah Hotel College to serve as greeters, session room monitors, way-finders and set-up checks for the conference. What a great idea! Having interns and volunteers help with meetings and events is easier than you think and is a resource all event professionals should explore:

  1. Contact the department chair of a nearby college in any of the following programs: Hospitality & Tourism Management, Food & Beverage, Hotel Management, Business, Communications, Arts Management, and/or Meetings and Events. College students are looking for experience, ways to earn volunteer hours, networking opportunities and resume building events. This is a perfect way to provide an opportunity for a volunteer who has an interest or passion in the subject.
  2. A Generation of “Can-Doers”. As NCC writes the second white paper in the Meeting Discoveries series which will focus on generational differences in training, we’ve found through our research that Generation Y is a generation of “can-doers.” This generation grew up fulfilling volunteer hours as a requirement from grade-school to college. They enjoy volunteering and are happy to take on any opportunity to help.
  3. Consistent communication and cause-driven. As mentioned in Rejuvenate, this generation wants to know the cause they’re supporting, what they’re going to do before and after, how to prepare, what to expect and how to dress. The article advises to lead by example, set the bar high, let them know the expectations, that you value their work and finally, to introduce them to attendees and key leadership.
  4. Volunteers as entertainment. Not all entertainment has to cost money in order to be phenomenal – whether a small price to pay or perhaps for free, local entertainment provides the attendees with a memorable piece of the region.  At the 2011 IACC Conference, two different performances “wowed” the audience – a jazz ensemble from Howard University and the Loudoun County High School choir. The planner was commended for using her resources and choosing something “off the beaten path” – attendees were blown away by the talent of these two groups.

Most importantly, don’t forget to thank your volunteers and interns for their hard-work and express how appreciative you for volunteering their time. Do you have any other tips or advice for planners on utilizing volunteers and/or interns as a resource for events? What has been your experience with this? Did you attend PCMA 2011 and were you able to interact with any of the students from Harrah Hotel College?

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