Know thy demographics

Hoteliers are looking to find common ground among the boomers and Gen Xers who spend most lavishly while on the road—and they're finding that it's not easy. Boomers (of which I'm one, barely, though I share a lot with Xers) tend to like

    a natural environment, luxurious decor and comfortable accommodations when they travel. Average Gen Xers want an urban environment, trendy decor and functional accommodations.

    "It's a little bit like mixing oil and water," says Neil Howe, a Virginia-based author, economist and consultant on generational issues. "Every time you try to accentuate your appeal to one generation, you end up rubbing another generation the wrong way."

If your meeting's demographics are starting to transition as well, keep in mind that you, too, might have to make some shifts in your meeting planning mindset. While the article says that both age groups like the outdoors, boomers like a nature walk, while Xers are more likely to want mountain biking. And, the article says, the usual golf outing won't be much of a pull for the younger folks.

If I were a planner, I'd do a gut check when checking the hotel to make sure I'm not letting my own generational preferences get in the way of what my attendees would most likely want. While Xer planners may just love Clarendon Hotel + Suites in Phoenix, which "invested $1.5 million to make it the epitome of Generation X cool," if the majority of attendees are a little on the gray side, they may want more in the way of comfort than cool.

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