A millennial is “a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century” often referred to as generation Y.
It has been said that millennials have increasingly strange characteristics, this means that their expectations from business, private life and events have key differences to those generations before them. Researchers have suggested such characteristics include;
- Tech savvy
- Ability to multi-task
- Little to no brand loyalty
- Short attention span
- Reliant on connectivity
- Requiring feedback
- Global sense of responsibility
- Requiring flexibility in both business and private life
Batey & Woodbridge 2007; Hanna, 2009; Howe & Strauss, 2007; Jones, 2007; Schmitt, 2008; Sweeney, 2006; Tinnish, 2007; Welch, 2007; Wieck, 2008
When looking for a career, there are several needs and wants that millennials look for;
- Their expectations are to have a balanced work Vs life and are not necessarily prepared to forego an experience now with the hope of gaining the experience later
- An ethical workplace is vital, with diversity and fairness playing key roles in job satisfaction
- They want to feel important and appreciated at work, even if their role is a small “clog” in the running, they want their ideas to be listened to, with the potential to be actioned, not necessarily leading to direct recognition
- Job stability is key and is of concern to 80% of millennials, this is due the economic market not sustaining careers in the same way that their parents and grandparents generations did
- Feedback is a must for millennials. They have grown accustomed to receiving feedback throughout their educational careers, if not it can create anxiety and job dissatisfaction, often resulting in job performance decreasing
As a result, event managers must adapt to these new needs and wants, this industry has to cater to the new generation of workers with their bizarre characteristics and expectations, as they are predicted to contribute 17 million to the UK population by 2019, just two years away. Inkling report (2016) found that millennials ranked having a healthy lifestyle and enjoying their work with greater importance than having a social life. Illustrating their need for meaning and enjoyment throughout their everyday working life. This is why they are classed as the “whats in it for me” generation, this might appear selfish, however, they are ensuring that their time is not wasted and that they will gain information that can be applied practically to an element of their lives. If this need is not met, they are not opposed to leaving, often not returning (Kovaleski, 2008; Jones, 2007; Schmitt, 2008). Traditional meeting styles such as podium speakers and static delivery of information is ineffective for capturing and retaining millennials attention (Morrell, 2011).
Research has suggested that the difficulty lies in balancing the clients requirements whilst meeting the expectations for those millennial attendees. They expect to be able to engage with their peers (Morrell, 2011), have a flexible semi-structured itinerary (Kolvaleski, 2008) and prefer to be in an intimate environment (Bair, 2008), whilst offering interactive elements throughout and ensuring the use of pioneering technology (Davidson, 2008).
Below are 5 top tips in venue selection, itinerary planning and marketing that will help to accommodate millennial attendees high expectations (Ballone, 2007; Jones, 2007; Kovaleski, 2008; Ruggles, 2009; Tinnish, 2007; Welch, 2007).
- Ensure the technology available is current or the venue has a contacts to hire additional equipment.
- Ensure there are plenty of breakout spaces with comfortable furnishings in an open and airy environment, along with charging points for attendees to easily access between sessions.
- Test the WIFI throughout each room that is intended to be used so as to ensure reliable and strong connections
- Taste a variety of the food (if possible) and enquire as to the source of the food and the dishes nutritional content, this will enable to choose a variety of healthy and flavoursome dishes
- Enquire into the environmental practices that the venue has in place
Planning the itinerary;
- Avoid icebreakers or introductions to their peers, instead include group problem solving activities.
- Create short sessions which are rich in content and data, otherwise their attentions will wander.
- Q&A sessions can be included, however, this should take the format of asking questions through-out the session via Twitter or other such media and with the most interesting questions being answered at the end. (Example!)
- Keep the capacities of the sessions lower so as to enable better engagement.
- Use alternative methods for presenting, such as Prezi or Visme than powerpoint to create engaging and visually interesting demonstrations.
- Create message boards on all websites so as to enable the creation of excitement prior and post to the meeting/conference.
- Create environments prior to the event for networking, launch the guest lists so that attendees can know who is also attending.
- Launch statuses of what speakers are attending and create a buzz around the meeting.
- Enable story telling of the meeting to take place before, during and after the meeting, this will help the millennials relate to the company, creating a greater possibility of return for future events.
- Create the feeling of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) amongst attendees and those interested, post previous events images and videos of attendees enjoyment and their testimonials of the event.