November 02, 2016

Marketing challenge open to high school FBLA members

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Hospitality and Tourism Administration Program, in partnership with the College of Business at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is issuing a challenge to Southern Illinois high school members of the Future Business Leaders of America: How would you market to the generation of consumers known as Millennials? 

The program is offering cash awards, funded by the SIU Foundation, for the high school FBLA team that comes up with the best “Marketing to Millennials” project. 

Sylvia Smith, associate professor, and Nicole Davis, instructor, are visiting high schools in the region to explain the idea behind their FBLA Hospitality Business Challenge. They want groups of students to select a region, a cuisine, an event, a destination, preferably in their geographic area, and devise a promotional plan using digital media to market to Millennials. For example, students in Murphysboro might tout their city’s designation as the “Barbecue Capital of Illinois,” while students in Harrisburg might consider their proximity to the Garden of the Gods, Davis said. 

Definitions of the Millennial Generation vary, but most sources define it as those born from the early-1980s to the mid-1990s or, by some standards, the early 2000s. Students currently in high school are at the very end of the Millennial Generation, or just at the edge of the next, as yet unnamed, generation. By whatever name, when they enter the workforce, the Millennial Generation will be the dominant consumer group. 

Smith and Davis hope this event is the first step toward building an annual hospitality and tourism themed marketing challenge. Smith noted that other FBLA regions partner with universities or with businesses on events like this, but that there is nothing quite fitting this description in Southern Illinois. 

“In future years, we hope to expand our geographic reach, but this first year we are confining ourselves to Southern Illinois,” she said. 

“This is also a recruiting effort,” Smith said. “We want to bring students to campus and show them around, and let them get to know our department and what career paths they might follow from it.” 

Students are able to register online by Nov. 15, and should have a promotional plan ready to submit for consideration by Jan. 15, 2017. Presentations will be on Feb. 25, 2017. Those interested in participating, or teachers who want to know more, should visit the website for more information, or contact Sylvia Smith at