Millennials, Generation Y, Digital Natives, are all names given to the group of people born from the early 80s to the mid 90s. If, like me, you are about to graduate, recently graduated or are about to enter the “real world” of work, chances are you’re a Millennial.
We’ve been over-analysed and widely written about because we’re the first generation to be shaped by technology, making the way we work, communicate, buy and consume information different than generations before us, and they don’t like it. We’ve been labelled as entitled, lazy, unrealistic, and technology dependent, but we’re also known for being efficient, able to multi-task, life-long learners, and more globally and socially conscious (CareerFAQ, QuintCareers).
Generation bashing isn’t new, but it is important to pay attention to the changes that Generation Y is influencing. We’re set to become 75% of the workforce by 2025, and the primary portion of consumer spending; currently millennials are spending over £400 million each month on live events. With this figure set to rise, as future event managers, we need to pay attention to what this group want from events and how we can deliver it.
Generation Y is changing the events industry in many areas, as detailed below. Members of the events industry need to be prepared to shift focus towards these millennial needs to be successful in the future.
To attract Generation Y, technology needs to be a big part of the event. To us, technology is second nature, and whilst some say it has played a big part in our shortened attention spans, it can also be a solution to keeping us engaged. We want to be able to use our technology in meetings, creating an event hashtag on Twitter can help drive engagement as we can use it to submit questions, or participate in polls, and communication can continue online after the event has finished.
We’ve been called “Generation me me me”, selfish and self-absorbed, but it’s actually that we’re interested in things that are going to add to our individual value, so we want to know what we’ll gain from attending an event. As a result, attendee participation and co-creation of events is a great way to drive Generation Y interest. Let us tell you what we would like to see, what speakers we’re interested in hearing, or vote for acts to appear at a festival.
The primary change being driven by Generation Y is in the conference and meetings sector. Despite our reputation for a lack of interest in face-to-face connection, we actually want more opportunities to connect and network within conference programmes. We want shorter, targeted speeches/sessions and more collaborative activities. The ideal time for a presentation to Generation Y is between 20-25 minutes, then another portion of 20 minutes to discuss what’s been said. According to the Pomodoro Technique, 25 minutes is the optimum time to allocate to a task for maximum productivity, Generation Y’s shorter attention spans makes this a necessary technique for the conference industry to begin to adopt as Generation Y begins to dominate attendee numbers.
Generation Y is the mobile generation, we’ve seen the bricks and the flips and witnessed the birth and evolution of the smartphone, which 87.7% of us now have so that we can access to the internet anywhere. Whilst websites are still the first port of call for millennials to find information about an event, future marketing will have to be mobile focused due to the increased use of mobile phones to access the internet. Marketing content will have to be mobile compatible, for example videos have to able to be viewed vertically. Social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram facilitates direct communication between millennials and event managers, we can give instant feedback and opinions, meeting our need to participate in the creation of the event. Whilst still emerging, wearable tech is set to be the latest technology embraced by Generation Y, meaning future event managers need to understand the technology and ensure that any mobile marketing via social media and apps is compatible with wearables.
Whilst this Eventbrite article found that word of mouth is still an important way people learn about events, with the growing dominance of Generation Y within the workforce and consumer groups, mobile marketing remains an important area of concentration for event managers to focus on to get millennial’s attention and attendance.
We as millennials, and future event organisers, need to understand the engagement and communication methods Generation Y wants from events so that we can over see the transition from Generation X and the Baby Boomers event preferences, to an efficient and technology driven industry. It also begins preparation for the arrival of Generation Z, whose communication and event design preferences we’ll need to know, as we’ll be the ones marketing and designing events for them in a few years time.