Christopher Young is the High School Division Director with DECA Inc., an organization that prepares emerging leaders and 
entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. DECA (and Young) are headquartered  in Reston, Va.

Briefly state what your job entails. 

As DECA’s high school division director, I am responsible for providing leadership in the areas of program development, member services, conferences and events to the organization’s division that serves more than 219,000 members in 3,500 chapters. I establish strategic direction for the division and employ membership strategy comprised of recruitment, retention and engagement plans resulting in annual growth. I manage seven to 10 conferences annually, ranging from 100-19,000 in attendance.

What type of meeting did you hold in Atlanta?

We most recently held our annual Chartered Association Management Conference, and will hold our annual International Career Development Conference in April. The CAM Conference was a preview for our key association leaders to receive professional development and also preview the site of our annual conference in April.

Was anyone particularly helpful in executing your event?

Atlanta has such great hospitality partners, starting with the Atlanta CVB and, of course, the Georgia World Congress Center, as well as hotels and attractions.

What did your attendees seem to enjoy the most about Atlanta?

Many of our attendees have been to Atlanta with DECA before, but the last time we were there was just before the opening of the College Football Hall of Fame. Our attendees really enjoyed getting to experience this interactive venue, especially as they go back to talk to DECA members, who are high school students, about the possibilities of things to do while in Atlanta.

A small group of our attendees also got a chance to preview the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which we hope will be the home to our general sessions in April.

Are there any group-friendly experiences you would recommend for groups meeting there?

The Georgia Aquarium is also a special experience. We were able to hold a special private dinner for our group, which featured a personal sea lion show. That definitely created a big splash with our attendees. DECA will work with the Georgia Aquarium again to provide a specialized group experience during our annual conference in April.

I would also encourage groups to look at Ponce City Market. It is such a cool venue with shops and restaurants and rooftop space. It’s definitely a unique experience.

How does Atlanta compare to other cities where you have hosted meetings?

Atlanta has such a great footprint for a conference. With the Georgia World Congress Center right next to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Phillips Arena, it creates a great focal point that is within walking distance to and from so many of hotels.

Atlanta also provides us with six large hotels with large room blocks that make conference management so much better for the planning side, and ultimately our attendees.

Would you return/recommend Atlanta to other meeting planners?

Atlanta is a great conference destination. The footprint is amazing, as well as the hospitality and service from all of the key players. They are true partners in ensuring the conference is a success for the organization, the attendees and the Atlanta hospitality community.