A US study confirms Generation Y needs greater engagement at meetings and events.
BY BRAD FOSTER
The group that we in Australia call Generation Y are called Millennials in the United States. Also known as Generation We, the Global Generation, Generation Next, the Net Generation, and the Echo Boomers, they are born in the late 70s or early 1980s up to the early 2000s.
However you want to describe them they are becoming the fastest growing demographic for the meetings and event sector. And, they’re here to stay.
To that end, the US-based Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Education Foundation commissioned a study to identify key motivations and challenges in engaging with this demographic.
The study – What the Millennial Generation Prefers in Their Meetings, Conventions and Events – is based on the findings of more than 2000 respondents aged between 18 and 30 years of age. It was undertaken by a team of hospitality and human sciences experts: George Fenich, Ph.D., East Carolina University; Sheila Scott-Halsell, Ph.D., Oklahoma State University; and Godwin-Charles Ogbeide, Ph.D., University of Arkansas.
The findings reveal that face-to-face communication remains the most effective method for reaching Millennials. However, the results indicate that planners must part ways with traditional meeting formats to truly engage this demographic.
“It is imperative to discontinue programs of straight lecture or basic PowerPoint presentations to satisfy an emerging generation of attendees,” the research team says in its findings.
“If you motivate the Millennial with an inspiring and fun event, they will come.”
The report examines how Millennials define “inspiring and fun” and why they choose to attend – or stay home – from meetings and events. By dividing this demographic into further subsets based on age (18 – 20, 21 – 24, and 25 – 30), the research team offers additional insights into internal differences between younger and older Millennials’ expectations, needs and thoughts on technology.
The report found:
86 per cent of respondents indicated that career networking is one of the primary drivers for participating in meetings, events and conventions. 93 per cent of respondents want education with entertainment. 86 per cent of respondents want structured meetings and conferences. More than 50 per cent of respondents do NOT prefer LinkedIn, Twitter or blogs for communication. Less than 50 per cent of respondents like lectures.
The study reportedly supports discussions that Millennials are a computer savvy generation who appreciate technological innovation and creativity. They value engaging, structured, yet casual, intimate meeting environments.
They are very impatient. Hence, they prefer meetings/events/conventions that are kept short with the integration of computer technology. Thus, the organisers of meetings/events/conventions should consider incorporating internet accessible programs or activities into their events. They should also make Wi-Fi and lounges with recharging stations available at meeting venues and use technology for interesting team-building activities. In addition to making the venues comfortable for Millennials, the value of participating in face-to-face meetings, events or conventions must be continually promoted to Millennials.
This study also showed that the organisers of meetings/events/conventions should consider planning programs that include the critical needs and interests of the Millennial. The organisers should consider what Millennials value when planning educational programs or events. The study showed that Millennials highly value education with entertainment and interactive games among many other values. As a result, meetings/events/conventions planners should strive to integrate some form of entertainment and/or interactive games into the educational programs or between the educational programs. In addition, meetings/events/conventions organisers should consider including Millennials on planning committees or actively solicit ideas from them to help plan, promote and motivate other Millennials to participate in events, educational programs or activities that are highly beneficial to them.
The study also indicated that the preferred channels of communication by the Millennial Generation include face-to-face and e-mail communication. These are the only channels of communication that attained an average of four or above on a scale of five. Consequently, meetings and events organisers should find ways to get the attention of the Millennial via face-to-face and e-mail channels of communication.
The study also showed that providing Millennials with career coaching opportunities, career networking, and job opportunities will motivate them to participate in meetings, events and/or conventions. Bearing the above in mind, meeting and event planners should strive to integrate all or some of the above professional development opportunities in their events.
It found many of the Millennials are students who are looking for jobs. Some of them are young professionals who will appreciate experiential professional/career development activities that will have an immediate impact on the enhancement of their skills. Integrating career coaching opportunities, career networking and job opportunities in meetings/events/conventions will add value to the event. The event promoters should advertise the event with the appropriate communication mix to get the attention of Millennials and make them feel the importance of the event as related to their career development and/or job opportunities. The Millennial has to be convinced as much as possible that they are losing career development and/or job opportunities among other benefits if they do not go to the event.