Designing events for Millennials, Gen Z and below

1 March 2020

By the end of 2020, Millennials are expected to dominate the global workforce (35%), while in the UK we are already seeing them reach this status (50%). Not far behind, Gen Z (mid-1990s  2010s) are already having an impact on the way we structure our working lives, with their new-age mindset influencing business decisions such as hyper-connectivity and reassessing company ethics.  

With generational change, comes a responsibility for event planners to consider new event formats and activities to align with their evolving demographic.  

Having only known a highly connected world, Gen Z expect to consume information quickly and conveniently. Detailed presentations and lengthy meetings aren’t going to cut it, so event planners need to think creatively to maintain the quality of information absorbed without increasing the quantity.  

This is what we call the ‘Experience Effect’. No longer will events be reviewed by the excess of their giveaways or the amount of information shared, but by the experience attendees had from pre-arrival to post-event. Greater attendee engagement leads to higher output, and a higher output leads to a greater return on investment. 

Recognising these evolving changes, at ETM, we take these considerations seriously, which is why we map out the delegate experience from the very first touchpoint to the very last.  

We incorporate meaningful technology such as customisable event apps and online portals into the overall event strategy, as an effort to build engagement and improve efficiency.  

App technology is becoming increasingly popular, with buyers recognising the value of connecting their delegates before they set foot at the venue. From instant messaging and social walls, through to gamification and pre-event information, apps can be used as the events foundation and provide a great source of digital information for effective ROI measurement.  

For example, at the request of one client to facilitate a more social environment for staff from various offices meeting for the first time, ETM developed a ‘social wall’ within the client’s event app. Delegates were able to share photos throughout the three-day conference, and engage with others by liking or commenting. By replicating their usual social media habits, the delegates began to get to know colleagues in a way that felt familiar and un-forced. 

Over the three days, the total app usage included 1,574,000 engagement points, 1,152 social actions, 309 contact scans and 6060 social posts! 

App technology also encourages audience participation during speaker sessionsmitigating the issue of audience stage-fright, by allowing delegates to ask anonymised questions or provide comments. There’s also opportunity for speakers to upload FAQs prior to sessions to assist with any pre-empted questions. By doing so, event organisers can reduce the length of sessions, resulting in higher levels of engagement throughout. 

But what about the other elements of a conference? We are also observing new trends emerge in the format and theme of team-build activities. Adhering to heightened consideration of CSRbusinesses are requesting that team-builds include activities with a charitable or ethical element. 

Increasingly we are asked by clients to report on the environmental impact of their events, and to recommend strategy to minimise this impact. By calculating the total carbon emissions from the event, you can work out the total about of money, or actions, required to offset these emissions and incorporate it into your team-building activities.  

For example, organising plant-based cooking classes for your delegates could educate them on more sustainable food options that still taste great. If it’s good enough for the 2020 Oscars Ceremony, it’s likely to go down well for your delegates too. By using locally sourced ingredients from the area your event is hosted in, you are also supporting the local economy and giving delegates an authentic cultural experience that they wouldn’t get back home.  

While incorporating ethical elements into your event activities is a great way to engage your Millennial and Gen Z audience, it’s important to maintain authenticity by upholding these ethics throughout the entire conference planning. That’s why it’s important to partner with an event agency that has experience in vetting suppliers and finding creative solutions whilst managing a strict budget on your company’s behalf.