Good News About Millennials and Meetings

Lori Halley 06 November 2013 0 comments

If you’re in the midst of event planning for the coming year, here’s some good news about getting Millennials to attend your events.

The findings of our  Small Membership Insight Survey indicate that events are the second most important “critical source of income” for small non-profits and membership organizations. Since there’s a lot riding on your events, you want to be sure that you attract participants across all generations - both long-time supporters as well as younger members.  

But appealing to Millennials (or Gen Y) can be a challenge.  In fact, one of our Small Membership survey participants asked:  How can we build attendance for events in a down-turned economy with Gen Y’ers who won’t attend anything they must pay for?

Millennials Recognize Growing Value of Face-to-Face Interactions

If you are fretting about getting Millennials involved in your events - take heart. A post on the Marketing Charts blog reports that a study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) found that “61% of Millennials aged 18-27 believe that exhibits at exhibitions, conventions and annual meetings are more valuable today than they were 2 years ago.”

The post suggests that Millennials are beginning to recognize the value of face-to-face interactions since their response was “the highest percentage of any generation, with older Millennials and young Gen Xers (aged 28-39; 53%) the next-most confident about the growing value of face-to-face interaction in this setting.”

Ideas for engaging millennials in events

So Millennials think events are valuable, but will they attend your event?  Jeff Hurt suggests it’s important to note that “Millennials want to be actively involved and participate in an experience. They don’t want to be passive consumers and spectators like past generations.”

Hurt looked at the 2013 Millennial Impact Report by Achieve and offered up his advice on how this insight can impact your event. Here are excerpts from his post:

  1. Millennials prefer to connect via technology.
    ...Your conference information must be accessible via mobile devices. A solid, robust mobile conference app is a must to engage this generation. During the conference, announcements and reminders should come via text or the mobile app and not just from the front of the room.
  2. Millennials crave and rely on peers.
    ...Peer to peer engagement before, during and after your event is critical to your conference success. Your conference education must include peerology, peer learning opportunities that are participant centered and not expert centered. If all you provide are lectures and one-way transfer of information, you will repeal Millennials.
  3. Millennials share in micro ways.
    ...Ensure that your conference experience provides solid connexity—opportunities to build connections and community. In addition to connexity sessions, guarantee that your conference education provides ample opportunities for short peer to peer story sharing, storytelling and peer learning. In addition to these micro learning experiences, encourage conference attendees to share their experiences in social media with hashtags.
  4. Messaging must be mobile friendly.
    1. .
      ..Your conference should think “mobile-first” with a focus on responsive design. Conference information should clearly demonstrate how the experience will help people or a cause move forward. Organizers must craft mobile friendly emails and text to connect with Millennials. This generation will go to the website first for initial information and then depend upon social networks to stay updated. So messaging has to be on both websites and via social media.
      ...

A little competition might also help

In a recent Associations Now postSamantha Whitehorne explains that “Associations are holding competitions during their meetings and events to not only celebrate their industries but also to engage the next generation of members.” The post offers examples  - such as “a live design reality show”, “a National Valet Olympics”, and a “National Moot Court Competition” - that “can increase member engagement or even get your new or younger members interested and involved in your industry and association.”

What is your organization doing to attract Millennials to your events?

We’d love to hear your strategies for engaging Millennials in your events.  Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Resources for Event Planning and Promotion:

Here are some free event resources available in our Membership Knowledge Hub:

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 06 November 2013 at 8:30 AM

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