Here they are—the young professionals scrolling through their social media feeds while waiting to check in for an event.
“Lazy,” “entitled,” “avocado toast lovers”—this is how millennials are often portrayed. What an anomaly!
This young generation is super well educated, curious, tech savvy and demanding. Hard to figure out and even harder to satisfy and attract to events due to the abundance of choices served to them every day. The generational turnover among congress participants is already underway, so get your strategies in place.
INCON, which brings together leading global conference and association management companies, consulted event and education experts to provide some tactics on how to make your event attractive to millennials.
Here are some useful themes:
- High-quality content and insights. Millennials come to your event to learn, so give them that opportunity. We’re living in the YouTube and Apple podcast era, so we all have access to very good content, regardless of the topic or industry. Moreover, we can choose from multiple narrators or video and audio content creators, depending on their personality, looks and vibe. You’re not competing with other industry events anymore. You’re competing with multiple online content platforms and hosts of good quality content.
- The right to choose what to promote. Be very careful how you’re motivating your millennial attendees to promote your brand. They won’t endorse your brand just because you told them to. They’ll share the things they believe in or that made a real impression upon them. As Patrizia Semprebene Buongiorno, vice president at AIM Group International and INCON cochair, points out, younger attendees will “speak about an activity or event they attended, filtered by their own experience.”
- Diversity and inclusivity. The younger generation is much more driven by the importance of human diversity and inclusivity. Although it’s very difficult to take all aspects of inclusivity into consideration, you should definitely pay special attention to doing as much as you can.
- Collective experience. One expectation your millennial attendees have is to enjoy a different kind of event that breaks the old structure of interaction. An up-and-coming format is festivalization. Festivalization works less like a conference and more like a music festival with education, focusing on multidisciplinary topics and delivering a new convergence of experiences.
- Eco-friendly and sustainable. One of the things millennials might expect from your event is eco-responsibility. They don’t want to see hundreds of printed agendas going to waste or use plastic water bottles or cutlery. So one of the things you should focus on is reducing the carbon footprint of your event. From managing the waste correctly to renting venues that offer natural light, there are lots of things you can do to make your event truly sustainable.
- Meaningful networking. It is wrong to believe that millennials are less interested in face-to-face meetings and prefer interacting with people online. People of all generations still appreciate face-to-face engagement. However, you need to work harder to find innovative ways to improve your event’s networking experiences and leverage new trends and technologies. For example, B2B matchmaking sessions allow attendees to schedule meetings during the event with those people whose profiles align with their interests. This means no more mingling in the crowd during coffee breaks and not knowing how to approach other delegates. Purposeful meetings will help your attendees get the most out of their networking experience.
- Experiential design. Ariadna Leticia Sánchez Padilla, marketing manager at BTC, herself a millennial, offers this advice: “Millennials want to experience special unique moments that reflect the essence of each event; the design and customization for each audience can really make an event special. Having photo booths is a good tool so delegates can capture their experience in a given moment and take funny and original photographs, which can then be posted on Instagram. Also the inclusion of themed music helps delegates identify and remember the event.
- Engaging with the local community. Millennials are always eager to learn new things and interact with different customs and communities. That is one expectation they’ll have when attending an international event. So make sure to design as many local experiences as possible for them. For example, you can organize guided tours, gastronomy tours or “do-as-the-locals-do ”type experiences. They’ll definitely enjoy it.
“Planning events for millennials is just like planning events for other generations,” says Angela Guillemet, INCON executive director. “The same amount of effort goes into the logistics, and the same challenges occur in both cases. The only difference between millennials and other generations is their passion for authentic experiences that are aligned with their values. Surely if we get it right for this new demographic it will benefit us all.”
INCON is a global partnership of trusted conference and association management companies, whose unique collaboration results in the design and delivery of innovative and impactful client events. Each INCON partner is a prominent Professional Conference Organizer (PCO), Destination Management Company (DMC) or Association Management & Consulting Company (AMC) with expertise in their own country and beyond. For more info, visit www.incon-pco.com.