How To Reach The New Generation Of Visitors And Exhibitors With Purpose And Experiences
We see a generation of young people that has grown up with advanced technology: a generation with a different mindset and therefore different expectations towards the event and exhibitions industry. Generation Y and Z spend a good amount of their time with their smartphones and mobile devices. As a result, they are truly flooded with content: blogs, articles, images, videos... With this excessive consumption of content, an "information" overload seems inevitable.
Internet connection has become indispensable to them: It is now a basic need. The affinity to mobile technology and the constant need of being online has a high influence on their behavior. For exhibition and event professionals, this behavioral change is key to understand the new generation of event participants and exhibitors.
Possession vs. purpose
In a world where political instabilities have become part of everyday life, young people may feel overwhelmed with negative images. Often, they long to "make the world a better place", for example by getting involved in environmental or social projects, by opting for vegan food and supporting animal rights, etc. For exhibition and event professionals, this behavioral change is key to understand the new generation of event participants and exhibitors.
"Purpose" matters more than "possession".
The minimalistic mindset of Generation Y is very interesting for the exhibition and event industry because it underlines the value of experiences and the uniqueness of face-to-face-meetings. Why buy a car when you can rent one or use Uber? Why buy tons of clothes when it adds unnecessary weight to your luggage?
The value of social interaction
In a world where communication never stops, and everyone is connected, the authentic experience of meeting other human beings and having a real conversation seems to become more important than ever. Whether we talk about consumer fairs and meet-ups or business-related events: Meeting someone face-to-face simply creates a deeper sense of social interaction.
As Forbes recently published in an article, the idea of creating a community is extremely attractive to young people. This often happens online on social networks. Meeting likeminded people with the same hobbies or interests has never been easier. Nevertheless, whether it’s cars or gaming or cooking, the community members appreciate face-to-face-events to further exchange.
Engaging experiences for trade show visitors
The mindset of the new generation of trade show visitors certainly creates new challenges for exhibition organizers. The young generations are very demanding and have high expectations towards experiences. Impressing them is hard – it seems like the whole world is available to them online anyway.
Creating engaging experiences and ensuring a certain technological standard certainly are two major elements of successful exhibitions for Generation Y and Z.
What is it that they are looking for?
- In-door navigation and digital signage are essential elements to direct visitors toward the right places and help them find their places of interest
- Themed villages and pavilions are great to bring together individual groups with similar interests
- Tracks can be helpful for exhibitions with conference elements to address different personas. Offer an event app that enables users to filter by tags or tracks so each visitor can personalize their agenda and ensure they don’t miss any relevant session.
- Allow attendees to prepare for the event well in advance. Offer enough information about sessions and also include learning objectives and target groups/personas that the sessions are aiming at
- Improve interactivity between event participants by offering a messaging system.
Digital experiences for exhibitors
Now, for exhibitors the digital change has a different impact. Trade show participations have always been very heavy in paper, with tons of forms and catalogues and fax replies…. But this cannot work anymore. Young exhibitors expect digital offers, so exhibition organizers are challenged to make all services and items available through a one-stop-shop. To facilitate the preparation of the exhibition in the best possible way, a big focus should be put on usability and mobile access, so exhibitors can flexibly complete tasks anytime they want. The digital experience should be simple and intuitive.
Personalized experiences may increase the perceived value of your exhibitors. They will appreciate the time-savings from recommendations and complimentary services matching their purchased items. Again, knowledge about individual customer types and target groups allows you to be very customer-centric and perfectly meet your audience’s requirements.