The latest information from the U.S. Census is startling. One in three people living in the United States is not Caucasian, it says. One in six is Hispanic. Among children, that ratio shifts to one in four. African-Americans are moving to the suburbs at a pace that’s never been seen before. Caucasians will become the U.S. minority by the year 2041. Baby boomers will exit the workforce in huge numbers in the next decade, leaving jobs to those in Gens X, Y and Z. Rural counties are fast losing population to metropolitan areas.

Add to that a number of cultural and societal shifts, and the impact of technology on the meetings and convention industry, and you’ve got a whole new world to contend with in order to stay competitive and profitable.

With that in mind, we offer you four tips for working in a diverse environment and how you can effectively serve a more diverse customer base to grow your business.

Tip 1: The business executives and clients you’ll work with will be more diverse than ever.

Such diversity brings different perspectives, and this may manifest itself with meetings professionals who value cultural nuances, such as local foods, traditions, events and history. Your organization can flourish by presenting new ideas that showcase diverse and meaningful activities, chefs, locations and cultural traditions that demonstrate an appreciation for diverse backgrounds.

Tip 2: Cultivate testimonials from women customers and clients and post them online.

Studies show that women do more online research than any other market segment. More than men, more than Caucasians, more than African-Americans and more than any generational segment. Women not only do extensive research and reading online, they trust what other women have to say. With women accounting for 50 percent of today’s workforce, there are more women in executive ranks calling the shots when it comes to planning meetings and conferences. Furthermore, women network with other women extensively. So tap into this by getting a few quotes or testimonials from happy, satisfied female clients and posting their comments online. It’s a no-cost tactic that will pay big dividends.

Tip 3: Adapt to cultural differences and for diverse customers.

An example: Latin American treats generally are less sweet than American treats; the cookies are more subtly flavored with a lot less sugar. I was impressed recently when a San Antonio hotel offered afternoon tea service with Mexican wedding cookies. How cool! What a terrific blending of diverse cultures! Another example: Chinese tourists expect to find boiled water in hotels for tea and dried noodles along with unlimited green tea. Chinese adapters for electronics are always appreciated as are chopsticks with every meal, even Western meals. By making small adaptations to your product or service, you can put the welcome mat out for diverse clients and meeting attendees.

Tip 4: Different generations want different things.

Free Wi-Fi is a must for younger professionals. The desire to stay connected at all times is paramount. For boomers, information and independence are valued. For example, boomers generally want to know everything there is to see and do in a city but then they want to explore on their own. Provide boomers with extensive information on what they can do and then build free time into the conference schedule so they can do as they like on their own.

Every company, association and organization is trying to increase business these days. By recognizing diverse customer groups and more importantly, diverse perspectives, you’ll uncover what people really value. And when you can tap into someone’s values, you’ll not only tap into their hearts and minds, you’ll reach their wallets as well.  Because people always spend money on what they value.

Next: MBEC 32.04 — Work with colleagues

See all 33 skills you need to be an effective planner.