With Millennials entering the workforce and Gen Z slated to make up forty percent of the working population by 2020, the entire events industry is changing based on the expectations of these younger generations.
SmithBucklin’s “20 for 2018” trend report states, “An Accenture Strategy Global Consumer Pulse Survey showed Millennial consumers highly value personalization, innovative experiences, access to exclusive offers or partnerships, and brands that support causes.” The same report highlights that “Gen Z is twice as likely to not support a brand because of poor features or a lack of responsiveness on social media.”
Aware of topics such as sustainability and eco-friendliness, diversity, and social responsibility, Millennials and Gen Z have a different vision on what meaningful events, interactions, and experiences should be like.
In other words, when planning an event for these generations, you’ll want to consider multiple aspects and focus on making your event as relevant and valuable as possible and align your values with the values Millennials and Gen Z have. How can you run meaningful events for the younger generation? Here’s a list of recommendations we prepared for you:
Mix education with engagement
Millennial and Gen Z attendees won’t be very thrilled to sit on their chairs and take notes while a speaker reads his or her speech from a piece of paper. Although Millennials and Gen Z love knowledge and unique insights, they also like to mix education with fun and engagement.
To make your knowledge sessions richer and more meaningful, go for an interactive format. Give your guests a voice by running live polls or quizzes during the presentations. Work with your speakers to create entertaining and lively presentations.
Moreover, make sure your moderator asks the attendees to exchange opinions or discuss a specific topic the speaker mentioned throughout the event. All these little twists will make the knowledge sessions more engaging, enjoyable, and interactive, and will help the attendees better understand the material and contribute with their insights.
Provide high-quality content
Since we’re speaking about learning, it’s important to consider and evaluate your speakers’ level of expertise. You also need to verify that they didn’t give the same speech at a different event.
What your younger attendees are expecting from your event is to hear speakers who will actually bring something new to the table using an entertaining format. The information must be fresh and extremely valuable, as well as help the attendees solve any crucial challenges they might be facing.
Take the networking experience one step further
Although the majority of the younger generation are connected to their phones and highly active on social media apps, they still appreciate face-to-face interactions. Networking is one of the reasons why they attend events. However, organizing a few ice-breaking games to help people interact more with each other is not exactly the approach Millennials and Gen Z desire.
What you can do is set up a matchmaking dynamic. When registering for the event, ask your attendees what they’re looking for and what they’re offering. Then, provide them the opportunity to scroll through the guest list and request meetings with other guests who are best aligned with their networking agenda.
Subsequently, during the event, prepare a meeting space for your attendees and designate time for their networking experience. This coordinated way of running the networking session will help your attendees find meaningful connections and build relevant professional relationships.
Obviously, you shouldn’t exclude networking during the downtime parts of the event, like coffee breaks or dinners. After all, a more relaxed context may also foster networking potential. However, you’ll definitely want to combine these two dynamics and make sure your guests will get what they came for.
Go for smart venues and less waste
One of the biggest expectations younger generations have is to reduce their carbon footprint and make sure they’re not negatively impacting the environment, which is why having a sustainable approach is a must.
What you’ll want to do, if possible, is to run fewer international events to help reduce the amount of traveling needed to attend these events. Apart from that, you may discover that smart venues are more energy efficient than standard venues.
Finally, you’ll want to reduce the waste your event is producing and go for sustainable options, such as edible plates and cups. All these little details will add up and transform your event into an environmentally friendly brand, which will please your younger attendees.
Search for socially responsible sponsors
Both Millennials and Gen Z are highly aware of different social movements and tendencies. Thus, you’ll want to avoid inviting a sponsor that has compromised itself in any way by committing a socially irresponsible action, such as not proving equal gender payment for its employees.
Be sure to scrutinize your list of potential sponsors and choose those that are socially responsible and reactive. Otherwise, you may end up having a low attendance rate.
The younger generations are not afraid of articulating their expectations and taking a stand when it’s necessary. That’s why you’ll want to focus on planning a sustainable and inclusive event that is powered up by socially responsible sponsors.
Apart from that, you’ll want to be more efficient with the ways in which you coordinate the networking time of your attendees. Finally, you’ll have to make sure that the event content you’re providing is top-notch and the knowledge sessions are based on the active engagement of the attendees. Having all these elements will make your event appealing to the younger generations and you’ll get well-deserved praise.