CIMSPA Youth Panel to give real insight into Gen Z at active-net 2020

It’s just months away until active-net 2020, the two-day educational, networking and business meetings event, which attracts professionals from across the leisure sector.

Following recent research by Leisure-net into the behaviour, attitudes and perceptions of 16 – 24 year olds (Gen Z), the theme of the event is Gen Z-What makes them tick?

To help delegates learn more about this important demographic, active-net 2020 will host members of the CIMSPA Youth Panel, a vibrant mix of young people from across the UK ranging from students and apprentices to those in employment.

Formed in summer 2018, the Youth Panel is chaired by Malcolm McPhail, Group CEO of Life Leisure.

“When I attended the CIMSPA AGM and conference in the past, I was struck by how it was dominated by middle aged people like myself, so when I joined the board, I was determined to make a difference,” says McPhail.

Working with Danielle Peel, CIMSPA’s Head of Organisation Design and Development, McPhail set about creating the chartered institute’s first Youth Panel, an advisory group comprising young adults aged 16 to 25, with a view to engaging the younger generation and gaining insight into their perspective on the sector. The impact of these young adults is already being felt across CIMSPA.

“They have been brilliant. Not only have they helped to shape the CIMSPA strategy, both its vision and mission, they have acted as our advocates and consequently have put CIMSPA in front of a wider and younger audience through social media,” says McPhail.

At active-net 2020, members of the Youth Panel will help operators understand how to engage with Gen Z consumers, who get their information, news and entertainment on their phones/tablets in constantly streamed, bite sized chunks.

Fraser Ford is a member of the CIMSPA Youth Panel. The 22 year old is a Community Champion at Southampton FC. Based at one of the largest schools in the city, with some 1,800 students, Ford works with pupils to engage them in physical activity, whether that’s one on one or in group sessions.

With a lifelong passion for sport, Ford started volunteering with Southampton FC four years ago when he started university. He applied for a position on the CIMSPA Youth Panel after his tutor made him aware of the opportunity.

“I thought it would be good for me and my career, and it has been. I’ve enjoyed so many amazing experiences, from going to conferences and meeting new people to attending board meetings – not many 22 year olds get to experience these things,” he says.

Being on the panel has also been useful for Ford’s masters research project, which focused on how CIMSPA works with football foundations. He is looking forward to sharing his experiences and views with active-net delegates, particularly when it comes to communicating with Gen Z.

“Social media really is the best way of communicating with our generation. I only skim newsletters or bulletins in my inbox, but if someone sends that information by Twitter, I read it. And I think most people my age are the same.”

Video content is hugely attractive for this audience too, he says.

“Young people are far more likely to watch a video or scroll through images than read an article. They have much more impact than words for us. In fact, I’ve just taken part in a video to highlight the benefits of volunteering to university students.”

To learn more about the opportunities and challenges of working with Gen Z, a new generation of consumers, come to active-net 2020 in March 2020.

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