The inaugural Future Leaders Conference attracted 104 delegates and is envisioned to be the first of many that will provide a platform for our under-40s to network, learn and shape the industry now and in years to come. We’d like to see that number double next year, but we’ve got some work to do in getting our message out to as many people under the age of 40 working within our industry.
The following key points were raised during the Future Leaders forum at the conference and presented at the 2016 National Conference.
We agreed that more work is required to better promote career paths within the industry in order to make our industry a more aspirational career option for younger people.
There is a strong desire for mentoring among future leaders and we need to harness the great network of experienced leaders that already exist within our industry, and utilise their knowledge and experience as mentors.
A quick survey of the room showed that about 60% of the room were involved in family businesses and only a handful had a proper succession plan in place. Future leaders are ambitious and succession plans need to be real, documented, fair and contain realistic time frames.
We discussed attracting a new, younger market by harnessing the power of social media and using product ambassadors. We saw potential in promoting the fun of the caravanning and camping lifestyle to children and the healthy, outdoors element to the fitness crowd. We touched on the growing Asian and Indian markets, and while the numbers are still low in our industry, they’re on their way up and we need to better cater for this moving forward.
We discussed that branding our products as Australian made may not be so relevant with the next generation as globalisation takes hold, so there’s a need to continue to innovate our products and ensure they’re better than imported products – in quality, design, affordability and after sales support.
It was suggested that we could look at developing our own range of industry mobile apps. For example, a branded caravan park booking app with links to tourist attractions, discounts and even a ‘what’s on’ guide for the different regions. The possibility of a classifieds app for dealers was also discussed.
The need for better communication and sharing of data between the trades and parks was identified. For example, park owners need to be aware of trends in caravan sales, particularly the types of products and sizes being sold so they can better prepare their parks to meet the requirements of the end users. We also discussed that the way in which we measure products needs to be standardised and that now may be a suitable time to switch from imperial to metric measurements.
As a part of the Future Leaders network in our industry, you are encouraged to attend the 2017 Future Leaders and National Conferences so that you can have a say as well as use the opportunity for your professional development.