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FEATURE ARTICLE 2
VolunTourism & The M3 TRAV3L3RS
The Millennials are beginning to make their presence felt in the tourism industry and in the nonprofit sector. Whether it is traveling to remote locations to enhance their knowledge base, meet their global neighbors, or pursue their humanitarian goals and objectives, the generation that is marked by pundits as the one that will change the world represents the foundation for VolunTourism and its longevity.
For many years the Boomers have been receiving the bulk of our attention. The sheer wealth that they are inheriting and producing as a group is unprecedented. NGOs seek them for their philanthropic potential. Companies seek them for their purchasing power. But did you realize that in the United States there is another group that outnumbers the 77 million born between 1946 and 1964?
Cone, Inc. and AMP Insights released the 2006 Cone Millennial Cause Study this past October. 1,800 respondents (905 female & 895 male, ages 13 - 25) provided answers to some very poignant questions. For those interested in discovering some of the purchasing and other habits of a target audience that is 78 million strong, be sure to read further.
The study outlined the significance that Millennials place on whether or not a company supports social causes and how this impacts their views of these companies in the context of such things as purchasing decisions and future employment opportunities. But here is the most fascinating element of the survey: Cone, Inc. and AMP Insights actually asked respondents about their volunteering habits and determined how these correspond to future purchasing and employment decisions. I spoke with Carol Cone, Founder & Chairman of Cone, Inc., about the reasoning that led to this inclusion.
“From working with clients over the years we have discovered that in this demographic group there is a growing emphasis on volunteering and community service. In elementary school, middle school, high school, and even at the collegiate level, students are volunteering.” She went on to add, “Points of Light Foundation and others have conducted exhaustive research on adult volunteerism; but we felt that in order to make this study comprehensive there needed to be a focus on youth volunteering.”
Here is an excerpt from the release that appears on the Cone, Inc. web site:
Engaged Millennials are a Company's Most Loyal Brand Ambassadors
According to the study, Millennials who actively volunteer are even more responsive to Cause Branding than their less engaged counterparts. These "Doers" volunteer at least once a week and represent nearly 20% of Millennials surveyed. Survey findings indicate that volunteerism unleashes a more engaged citizen, consumer and employee. The estimated 15.6 million Millennial "Doers" in this country are a company's most loyal brand ambassadors. To support the causes they care about, "Doers" will reward a company that meets their standards. At the same time, they are not afraid to refuse to work for an employer that lacks a sincere commitment to social issues.
"Doers" are a Company's Most Loyal Brand Ambassadors and Employees
42% who volunteer weekly describe their "ideal" work environment as a place that will help them make the world a better place, outranking all other factors, including high salary (41%) and flexible hours (37%).
87% who volunteer weekly have purchased a product that supports a cause in the past year; that number drops to 48% for non-volunteers.
71% who volunteer weekly are likely to speak out against a company that is NOT socially responsible as compared to 48% of non- volunteers.
What are the possible implications of the results of this research for VolunTourism industry stakeholders? VolunTourism may be utilized to:
- Attract & Retain Future Employees
- Create A Diversified Affinity Program, or
- Evolve A Cause Marketing Campaign
Attract & Retain Future Employees
Tourism is the world’s largest employer. Estimates suggest that roughly 10% of the workforce worldwide is employed through tourism. Many studies, including this one from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, indicate that those under the age of twenty-five hold a significant number of entry level positions, particularly within hospitality & tourism. VolunTourism may very well assist the tourism sector in attracting the best candidates from the Millennial field. But in order to do so, the industry must transition from being the bearer of the philanthropic message to actually putting the message into practice.
Susan M. Heathfield writes for the Human Resources section on About.com. In a recent article entitled “Top Ten Ways To Retain Your Great Employees," she offers, “I place this final tip on every retention list I develop because it is so key and critical to retention success. Your staff members must feel rewarded, recognized and appreciated.” Coming from a person with 35 years of experience in Human Resources, this sounds like good advice. But is anyone utilizing VolunTourism in this way?
In this issue’s VT Lines, we reference an article written about a Denver-based firm that is currently incorporating VolunTourism as a reward strategy. McClain Finlon Advertising offers its “Global Do-Good Grant” application to employees that have been working for the firm for at least one year. One individual is selected to take a VolunTourism adventure of their choosing. In keeping with the unique quality of this type of retention program, this year's recipient, Sara Greene was able to make a post-trip presentation to McClain Finlon clients and staff on December 5, 2006. (A copy of the invitation can be found here.)
Whether companies or nonprofits are pursuing employees or making an effort to retain their services, VolunTourism provides creative options for accomplishing both objectives.
Create A Diversified Affinity Program
If you speak with Alumni Travel Planners, they will tell you that the majority of their travelers fall into the 55+ age bracket. VolunTourism may provide an opportunity for Affinity Programs to reach well below their average age level and draw recent graduates into the fold of alumni travel. It may also offer an introduction for undergraduate students to transition into the alumni arena by participating in joint alumni/student VolunTourism itineraries.
If trips have traditionally been high-end, a VolunTourism experience can offer a diversification of the travel portfolio by including a trip that has a lower price point and, in some cases, may provide would-be participants an opportunity to add fundraising options to cover part of the expenses. For colleges and universities founded on a faith-based or sectarian mission, VolunTourism may prove quite viable in opening the door to a previously untapped audience within your alumni base.
Evolve A Cause Marketing Campaign
On Point Marketing & Promotions defines cause marketing as:
A marketing strategy linking purchases of a product with fundraising for a worthwhile charity, project, or cause, cause related marketing creates a mutually profitable outcome for the business and charity. Cause marketing can be a highly effective method that contributes to building a positive image for the business while helping a charity gain much needed visibility.
Traditional cause marketing campaigns have focused primarily on two elements: brand awareness & recognition and revenue generation for nonprofit organizations. VolunTourism offers the potential of including a third, hands-on, participatory element for the consumer to the mix. A company or nonprofit organization can incorporate VolunTourism into an existing cause marketing campaign as an award for Millennials who may not be able to make a substantial financial contribution to a nonprofit, but can certainly support it through their desire to give of their time and effort. Building points from purchases or tracking Millennials service hours can enhance a cause marketing campaign that may be targeted more to Gen X/Y or Boomer audiences.
There is an underlying preponderance of sentiment that suggests the Millennials will change the world. (Of course, I’d like to think that we do not need to wait for this audience to mature in order for such changing to occur.) But if the tourism industry and the nonprofit sector must have an impetus to shift their approaches, well, let’s see if we can get these young people on a fast-track to adulthood.
VolunTourism is one of the products/services being prepared especially for Millennials. How will it serve those who implement it? It is the promise of VolunTourism that resounds in the hearts and minds of current practitioners and participants alike. They have experienced the transformation. Their passion to share their personal shift with others, in hopes that it will convince them to do likewise, is what is being passed to other Millennials. Their response will undoubtedly determine whether this generation will truly change the world.
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