How Millennials Impact The Events Industry
Millennials are changing the way industries, businesses, and governments are run. They’re the generation post-Gen X, who grew up with computers in their homes and phones in their pockets. And with over 83 million millennials in the United States, it’s easily understood why so many are trying to figure out just how to connect with this new kind of audience. The events industry is no different.
Millennials and the Events Industry
Despite common reports otherwise, the events industry is on the rise. As technology booms, more value is being placed on the benefits that come with face-to-face interactions (aka experiences). Planning an event can be difficult; as there are typically still four different generations that are attending meetings today. However, Baby-Boomers and Gen X may not accept and appreciate the changes in communication adopted by Millennials. Millennials are technology natives; they are the ones inspiring change and collaboration. In most cases, Baby-Boomers and Gen X attendees may see events as their only opportunity of growing their “social network”. Millennials see it as an extension of their social interactions. Ultimately, Millennials are driving the innovation inside the market and moving other generations with them.
Look across the room at a conference or expo and you’re likely to find heads down and faces illuminated by a screen. It’s important to understand that while they may seem disengaged, they’re actively leveraging their social media networks to boost the event, etc. Just because previous generations may only use phones for Facebook and texting, Millenials probably aren’t. This level of engagement is valuable and should be fostered. Help them leverage these connections to boost a following for the event.
The primary reason that Millennials attend events and conferences is to network. They already have a digital network and events are simply a way to extend that network and build a tangible relationship.
While some generations can’t fathom the concept, Millennials are not the type to stay in a job for an extended amount of time. Before even taking an interview, they know everything about the company. Their research on business practices, company history, and employment has already been completed. They’re not about taking a job just to have a job. Give them about 4 months to judge if they like the company. And if they cannot be shown a path for advancement and for career growth soon after that, they don't stay longer 16-18 months on average. This is why social networking is so important to Millennial professionals. Love it or hate it, these are the motivations that are driving a lot of the networking growth inside of modern events.
The New Definition of Sustainability
Millenials aren’t all about money, though. Sustainable has a new definition now (surprise!). Millennials are environmentally conscious but they don’t consider themselves “environmentalists”. They are about more than just the physical world. They take into consideration the social circumstances of their global community. The companies they respect are ones that take a consideration the social circumstances surrounding an event or issue. It’s also a point they look for when looking for networking opportunities; if the event perpetuates social/environmental values, they see an added value. Millenials respect authenticity.
This is a generation that grew up being bombarded with advertisements. They respect events and people that are willing to be straightforward. Clear and specific communication can win with this crowd. This means event registration and event engagement must reflect this attributes. They expect these things to be fun, straight-forward, and free of complexity.
graphic courtesy of IAEE
Take a Loss
Privacy is something millennials are pretty foreign to. Glance at a Facebook page, Instagram account, or blog and you’ll find very little is sacred. Millennials want transparency. It's an extension of authenticity. It’s better to take a failure and persevere forward rather than to hide and cower. Communicating the failures shows that authenticity; wouldn’t it be easier to accept a mistake rather than it be uncovered later?
Understanding a new generation doesn’t have to be all smoke and mirrors. There are things to learn from the tech-savvy generation. Millennials can help you supercharge the growth of your event, improve your event experience, and attract new audiences to your shows. But you must learn to genuinely connect with them first.