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Millennials: The Next Generation of Event Attendees

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Millennials; the generation of young adults currently spending their hours playing Pokémon Go and taking pictures of their whipped mocha coffee drink. The current view of Millennials is not great, if you go to google and search “Millennials are” the top results are “lazy”, “idiots” and “screwed”.

Millennials are 20-35 years old, they are contributing to the workforce, consuming goods and services, having children of their own and are the next big group of economic players. So how do we as event managers, association management companies, and association professionals appeal to this generation?

What is a Millennial?

Depending on who you ask, the years for categorizing a Millennial can be anywhere from 1976 to 2000, but most statistics define a Millennial as someone born between 1980 and 1995. This generation has grown up during the financial crisis of the 2000s and its continued fallout today.

What makes a Millennial Unique?

While tarring one group with the same brush can be detrimental, there are a few factors that many Millennials share that make them unique from previous generations.

Technology

Millennials grew up in the digital age, with computers in their homes and cell phones in their school bags. They are two and a half times more likely to be an early adopter of technology than other generations [1].

So use this to your advantage, for example by asking them to test your event app or registration site. They will have used similar technology before and can identify errors and technical issues, while also providing usability and improvement feedback.

Look at the technology currently picking up steam with Millennials, like Ingress augmented reality or the Oculus Rift’s virtual reality and ask them to help you understand the effects it may have on your events over the next decade.

Don’t jump on a bandwagon to try and connect with the cool kids (Harlem Shake anyone?) but try to take the ideas and modify them to improve your event. Your event probably doesn’t need a Pokémon gym to attract Millennials, but what about augmented reality slides? Or full virtual reality videos of your event or entertainment, so that people can feel like they were actually there.

Social Media

Not only are Millennials more comfortable dealing with technology, but they are more willing to provide feedback. In fact, 70% feel a responsibility to share feedback with companies after a good or bad experience [2] and social media has created an instant way for these consumers to connect with the brands they are supporting.

Integrating social media as part of your event is becoming more important, not just for Millennials, but for every delegate. Choosing the right kind of social media for your event, based on demographics is also important. A medical conference for physicians is unlikely to benefit from a snapchat hashtag, but a networking event for direct selling consultants might.

During the event encourage social media use by having someone regularly monitor the event group or hashtag. Millennials expect their social media to be interactive and responsive, not just pre-prepared tweets sent out by a scheduler.

Causes and Social Responsibility

Almost 50% of Millennials would be more willing to make a purchase from a company if their purchase supports a cause [3]. With technology comes easier access to information and Millennials are used to being able to look at the social and ethical side of an organization as well as the services or products they provide.

Does your event… Recycle? Have healthy food options? Try to offset its carbon footprint? These factors can heavily influence a Millennials decision to attend your event so make sure to advertise them as a benefit just as much as the educational content or networking opportunities.

“For Millennials, wellness is a daily, active pursuit. They’re exercising more, eating smarter and smoking less than previous generations. They’re using apps to track training data, and online information to find the healthiest foods. [4]

More Than Just One Generation

Millennials may be early adopters, but we still need to be aware of the impact they have on other generations. While we may think of the Millennials as an outlier, they are a larger generation than even the baby boomers [5] and their influence is only growing, as they themselves start raising the next generation of socially responsible, tech savvy, social media users.


[1], [2], [3] http://www.millennialmarketing.com/
[4], [5] http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/millennials/

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