The job of meeting planners is becoming more challenging as Millennials gradually become the majority of meeting participants. Millennials are the generation born between 1982 and 2002. By 2020, they will represent one-third of the global population and they will be the planner’s primary customer for a long time. How are they different? What do we need to know about them in order to design events that engage them?
3 Things to Know About Meeting Planning for Millenials
There are three traits that seem to be consistent across the millennial generation:
- They are tech savvy.
- They are budget conscious.
- They are not passive participants.
We have already covered the first two traits in previous blogs, so in this blog we would like to focus your attention on the third.
THEY WANT TO PARTICIPATE
Traditional meetings are usually about imparting product information, interacting with customers, introducing new concepts, or educating employees in advanced management techniques. Attendees are expected to simply receive information passively.
However, it seems that the Millennial generation is not satisfied with simply being passive participants at the organizer’s party. They want to go home with more than just saying they’ve been to a five-star hotel and sat listening to speakers drone on.
Millennials want to participate in an experience and are looking for real-world learning models like interactivity and perspective-enhancing cultural enlightenment. Millennial groups want to experience local culture outside the hotel. They want to be enriched and inspired.
MEETING THE MILLENNIAL CHALLENGE
- This new perspective is forcing meeting planners to strive for authenticity.
- Meeting professionals are seeking distinctiveness, personality, and personalization.
- Hotel venues around the world are recognizing this generational shift and are responding by employing “cultural ambassadors” who immerse travelers in local cultural experiences.
- The Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa offers Hawaiian culinary classes, hula lessons, and an island music immersion experience, for example.
- The La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla highlights the Southern California health and exercise culture by offering yoga classes, golf at Torrey Pines, jogging trails, biking equipment, beach volleyball, and ocean kayaking opportunities, to name just a few.
- The Four Seasons Punta Mita in Mexico offers local experiences led by Enrique Alejos, the property’s so-called “cultural concierge.”
When I look back on this now I honestly feel we’ve been ahead of the curve at Premier. That’s one of the reasons we love planning incentive trips and meetings. More than that – we love the time we spend with clients exploring different ways to make a meeting memorable. It’s that “discovery” time where we become the most creative. It’s so much fun! Without a doubt – for Millennials – it is about the experience. Everyone in the meeting and travel industry is beginning to recognize the millennial generation’s impulse to actively participate in, rather than passively attend, events. Whether being more interactive with presenters, or real-time sharing an event experience with colleagues outside the event venue, or seeking to “experience” the culture of the surrounding country, Millennials want to participate and interact with people who can teach them something.
LET’S JOIN THEM
This generational shift is a whole new challenge for event planners. Let’s embrace the spirit of our new millennial customers. Let’s get out there and really participate in the meetings we plan. Let’s interact on a real-time basis with the attendees we are serving. Finally, let’s take a whole new Millennial approach to planning events by mimicking the way Millennials attend events.