Is there a Generation Gap in the Pool Industry?

First of all, I would like to admit that it has been way too long since I have really participated here at the PGN and I am SORRY! I miss you all very much, but my focus has been laser targeted lately, and I simply haven't had the opportunity to join you in discussion. I hope that will be changing now, and I am really looking forward to spending more time here again. 

Next, I recently wrote a blog post that I thought would go over well here. So, I am sharing it. I hope you enjoy; I look forward to your comments!

I read an article in Aquatics International recently that really started me thinking. It was an interesting and thought-provoking look at the way we communicate, and the differences between the generations. When you get a free moment, I'd recommend reading: "All in How You Say (or Text) It" by Tina Dittmar.
I think the reason why I got so involved with the article was, in part, because I was so shocked by the realization that communication has evolved so much over the years. I think that I missed the train, personally, and as I write this blog post I am actually turning into my parents. 

One of the first reactions I remember having as I read was this "Texting at work!? Inappropriate." As I continued reading, it dawned on me that this article should be an eye-opener! I think of myself as fairly progressive in business - I am a marketer after all, I have embraced web 2.0 like a Koala bear. But texting? With staff!? 
According to the general snapshot presented in the article, I should - chronologically speaking - fall into the Gen Y generation. The thought of being on the same wavelength as someone who is 14 years old, however, makes me chuckle. 

Under the heading "Communication" I relate much closer to Gen Y: I do text and use social media, but certainly not exclusively. Texting is reserved for brief updates between friends, sent in full sentences (I abhor "abbreves"), and used as a supplement to actual voice conversations, not an alternative to.

As an employee, I actually find myself relating to the Boomers thoughts about feedback. I operate under the assumption that I am doing a great job that will be remunerated with money and title. I hold myself to high standards and don't wait for positive reinforcement because I am fairly certain I am my own hardest critic. However, I do assume that if I do something wrong, I will be held accountable. The concept of looking for feedback on every action I take is foreign to me.

The generations apparently expect and give respect differently as well. In my mind, respect should be earned by a combination of experience, life choices, ideas and suggestions. I guess I span the generation gap on this topic. Each of those four concepts need each other to thrive, and shouldn't ever stand alone. 

The future of management? There are some days when I look at the younger generations - Y and Z, and wonder when the world is going implode. But there are other days - thankfully many more of them - that I watch the accomplishments of people who are SO young and I wonder how we got this far without them. Forecasting how the future of workplaces will look is way beyond my imaginative capacity, but I retain high hopes.
The article certainly taught me a few things about my way of thinking. If nothing else, I realized that, despite my own weird concepts of professionalism and communication, I need to get with the times. I need to be able to communicate with my clients regardless of how old - or YOUNG - they may be. I need to learn the new playing field. 

If you haven't read it yet, make sure you read the original article in Aquatics International, All In How you Say (or Text) It.

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter. Does your chronological age fit with the "generation" that you belong to? Are you taking special measures to bring new methods of communication into your business? Leave your comments below - this really should be an interesting discussion! 
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  • I agree with Scott.  If you get a text (business or personal), and you don't IMMEDIATELY respond to it, the younger gens do tend to get "offended" if you don't get right back to them right away in 2 seconds.......

  • Texting, just like personal calls at work is inappropriate.  Employers don't pay for personal time and that is what makes the texting seem to be a misuse of time.  However, I receive a stream of texts from staff and clients all day long.  the perception is that texts are purely for personal business, which is less and less true.  

    Where the generational gap exists is the lack of understanding of protocols and expectations between those generations.  The expectation of younger folks is that a response will be much more instantaneous.  For those of us that remember having only a land line, message machines and pagers, that same expectation is not there.  As a kid, i used to get a message that someone called, you called a place to get back in touch.  Today you don't call a place, you call a person via cell or direct line, etc.  Circling back to texts, we've come to accept texts as being less intrusive than a phone call, yet, we wait with baited breath for a reply to our text.  A text is another means of being in direct contact with a person.  That direct contact aspect is the widest understanding gap between the generations.

  • Hi Monique!  Long time no see :o)  Hope you are coming to the IPSPE in Vegas in November so we can meet in person rather than through emails, etc. 

    Anyway, I too, keyed in on that article Aquatics International Magazine, and wanted to blog about it - but you pretty much stole my thunder here with your excellent article, because I mostly had the same opinions and impressions as you.

    Two things I might add are that while all that GEN XXXXX stuff is fairly accurate, our industry still has to focus on the older Baby Boomer GEN (whatever they are) because those are generally the people who still have money (even after the recession) and also are the demographic category most likely to own a home, buy a pool or spa with cash, and know they need to exercise as they get older.  Also, a surprising number of folks over, say "50 to death", actually do have Iphones, they text, email, Facebook and are proficient at computers.  I see it all the time here in Vegas while "people watching" the tourists.  So I would tell all pool & spa marketers not to "throw grandma off the cliff", advertising-wise, when planning their various ad programs.

    Conversely, many marketers are throwing Gen Y & Gen Z's off the cliff, exactly because of what I just said above.  Again, living in Vegas, I get to see a HUGE demographic slice of life everyday, and I can tell you that these new  Mega Hotel Club/Pools are really catching on in a big way with the 21-35 year old group.  Now of course they are here in Vegas to party in the huge mega-pools (many with bars built right into them) and listen to Tiesto & DeadMous5 (and the like) at live concerts right there at poolside - but they are being subconsciously imprinted in their minds that "pools are cool, pools are fun, pools are hip, I had very positive memorable moments and great time with friends in these Mega-Club pools" - - - and it is my prediction that THESE will be a key target demographic for pools in about 10 years. 

    I know that many pool & spa guys are still hurting from "The Recession", and the thought of planning your marketing out a decade may seem unthinkable to many of them - - - but these "kids", the Gen Y's & Gen Z's will be the future adapters, the future consumers, who will think they "need" or "want" a pool 10 years from now, when they have more money, a house, kids, a back yard, yada, yada, yada...

    So we try to market across all GEN XXXXX (whatever's) with more traditional marketing methods to the oldsters - and more "hip and cutting edge" image-type marketing and branding to the under 30 crowd.

    Just my two cents on the topic...  Look forward to hearing others' thoughts as well :o)

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