Millennials still prize face-to-face meetings, but see technology as a integral component. Also, meetings offer a way to create networks and expand their knowledge, paths they see as more beneficial than traditional education.
That is the finding of a new report “What Millennials Want in Meetings,” produced by the Meetings Mean Business Coalition.
Citing research published in the Goldman Sachs Macroeconomics Insights, “many millennials are moving through their careers in a competitive and unpredictable job market, with fewer guarantees in terms of traditional career advancement than previous generations. For Gen X and boomers, a formal education and lengthy work experience provided more job security and opportunities to climb the corporate ladder than today. For many Millennials, there’s no such thing as a corporate ladder. In response to that, millennials are placing much greater value in the 21st century on developing external professional networks and a greater emphasis on real world education within their specific industries.” Meetings offer this opportunity, the report finds.
Also, the report finds that “millennials expect technology, including fast Wi-Fi, hybrid content, social media conversation, web-based audience participation platforms, comprehensive event apps and other tech to be seamlessly integrated into modern meeting design.”
More than 80 percent of millennials who responded to a poll by Skift say they are familiar with event technology. About 85 percent say social media is either a little or very important for meetings and conventions. Mobile technology also is increasingly important at meetings, as events apps and mobile connectivity help attendees remain engaged and informed.’
The report offers 5 key strategies to engage millennial attendees. Among them:
Customize event education. Modern meeting design today integrates education at every turn with more options for pop-up sessions and open space learning. Perfection space is the new meeting space because attendees can come and go depending on their satisfaction with the specific content, and it tends to spur more casual and spontaneous conversation.
Create hybrid meetings with exclusive virtual content. Ensure millennials have content to share at face-to-face events. Meeting planners can start slowly to build their online virtual content to test what engages attendees with stakeholder messaging most.
Kill the cocktail reception. Actually, add some interactive knowledge sharing that helps millennials develop either personally or professionally. Many millennials say the traditional cocktail reception is intimidating because it feels so unnatural to them to walk up to someone to try to start a conversation without some kind of shared interest beyond the event theme. Apps like MeetingMatch are becoming popular where attendees can find people with similar interests.