Millennials Meet Differently

There’s a lot of noise in every business sector about the impact of millennials, how to sell to millennials, how to hire millennials, how to understand and communicate with millennials, and lastly – whether all this talk about millennials is just making mountains out of molehills.

We say, “No.” There is a unique set of characteristics they bring that is rapidly changing how business gets done. And that includes all of your meetings and events. With $600 billion in buying power, millennials are also becoming a more dominant portion of the workforce. Meeting planners are eager to engage this technology-savvy generation’s needs and wants.

Integrate Technology

Millennials expect technology to be seamlessly integrated into every part of your event: always on, and always available. Further, they are looking for wifi with an appropriate bandwidth, multiple recharging stations, ways to interact with sessions via their devices, and digital wayfinding. This begins before the event, as well; ensure that your event’s website is optimized for mobile use, as millennials are registering and talking about your event on their mobile devices.

Focus on Real & Virtual Interactivity

Millennial attendees are experiencing your live event while simultaneously taking part on event-related activities online. They want to feel included and participatory, connecting face-to-face with others, so they are eager for interactive elements that break down barriers while creating a space for learning and networking. Many event planners are focusing on breakout sessions with fewer lecture-style presentations, shorter sessions, and an emphasis on participant-created
content.

This generation wants to be seen as real people, with real personalities. Often, they will be turned off by meeting environments that require more formal business attire, so an informal, genuine approach is most appealing. Think of this while selecting a venue, and when hiring your staff. Also: try to greet every attendee personally, and personalize your follow-up and let them know that you care about their opinion.

The greatest driver of interactivity is social media, of course, so make sure your event is social-media worthy. Use hashtags and photo walls, retweet your attendees, and follow them back. Create shareable content leading up to and during the event, such as videos or tagged/branded photos. You may want to offer discounts to your social media followers as you work to increase excitement and anticipation. Even details like photogenic food presentation can lead to social media buzz.

Minimize Cost, Maximize Value

Millennials are quite cost-conscious, and they want to feel that they are getting value for their investment – not just their financial investment, but also their time. If they feel that they aren’t getting value, they’ll speak out about it, so the event’s content and experience is essential. An event is also an opportunity to build community that they can leverage when job seeking or traveling. Many planners are offering discounts, scholarships, social media contests, and even virtual attendance options that will facilitate Millennial participation.

Educate, Don’t Sell

Further, Millennials have no patience for sales pitches; they’re attending your event to learn and network. Should they feel like the event is focused on sales, they’re likely to turn to online classes or YouTube for the education they’d be getting at your event. Give them an experience with hands-on learning that simply cannot be replicated virtually.

Go Green

Millennials pay attention to organizational corporate social responsibility strategies, and they make decisions based on them. More than recycling, find ways to ensure sustainability – and promote it in the event’s marketing. Get rid of plastic, choose local/organic/responsible foods and materials, and ditch printed handouts. Electronic handouts should include major talking points, facts, contact information, and easy access to your website. These simple, mindful, Millennial-friendly choices can help them to see you as sharing their values, and your event as one that will have a significant impact on their future while being low-impact to the environment.