The Future of Your Organization: Wooing Next-Generation Attendees
Millennials have officially become the largest living generation, and in the workplace, more than 1 in 3 workers is a millennial, according to the Pew Research Center. With these numbers only increasing – and the percentage of other generations in the workforce decreasing – associations must take notice and begin planning for a future of millennial and Generation Z attendees and members.
Preparing for a future with the younger generations in mind is a daunting task for many because these younger generations are completely different than every other generation – in practically all ways. So let’s take a look at several things to keep in mind to target and attract millennials when preparing for your next major event.
How are you communicating?
First and foremost – and this goes for pretty much any aspect of dealing with younger generations – do not expect a one-size-fits-all answer, and plan to utilize multiple platforms consecutively. In the past, you might not want to bombard people with invitations and reminders; however, millennials thrive on constant communication and updates.
Getting a mailed invitation, an email evite and a social media invitation doesn’t make them feel like you are overly pushy. Instead, it makes them think you really want them to come. And evites and social media events typically remind the attendee in the days leading up to the event, decreasing the number of no-shows.
Social media must be a major part of your regular communication, as well as a major part of your event. According to Adroit Digital, 44 percent of millennials expect brands to start an open dialogue on social media. They expect you to come to them, so find them and begin by promoting your association with an invitation to the event. Don’t just send the invitation, you have to engage. Post updates as they become available to keep your attendees informed.
How do you plan to involve the younger generations?
Millennials want to be engaged. They want a conversation. Millennials do not want to be told what to do or how to do it. They understand that you have more experience and different knowledge, but they too have skills and knowledge that the other generations might not have.
Millennials are also very interested in charities and giving back to the community. Find a way to incorporate a charity or cause and you will gain a whole new respect. They also enjoy volunteering. While you can’t do volunteer work during events, promote volunteer work or involve volunteering in some aspect of the event, like a presentation on volunteer work supported by the association.
Social media, like I said before, must be a major part of your event. Social media can engage attendees from around the conference without requiring them to be in the same room. Attendees can share photos and videos from the event, and you can live stream from the event. Consider creating a hashtag campaign when you begin planning your event.
Create millennial-based options during the event, like a seminar geared to those new to the industry or a networking event through social media. Millennials don’t want to sit in a monotonous lecture for 4 hours; however, a 4-hour interactive workshop on web design where attendees create their own website would attract significant numbers of millennials. Make things interactive and fun.
Where is your event?
The location of your conference should have nothing to do with the quality or success, but today it does. A potential attendee researching different events could eliminate your event because of its unappealing location. Millennials crave experiences and so they will look for the conference that has the ability to offer the best experiences outside of the conference itself.
When selecting the specific location in the town, there are several things to consider. While millennials want the experience, they don’t want to break the bank just to sleep. Find a quality hotel and center that offer amenities, but don’t go for the lavish, high-dollar hotel. Oh, and if you can find a hotel that focuses on sustainability, renewables or has the “go green” attitude, it will spark the interest of millennials.
What are your prices?
Millennials won’t pay the high price for something they don’t see as equal value. Consider different fees based on memberships, titles (student, retired, etc.), company affiliation, etc.
If possible, don’t restrict your event to members only. Millennials don’t want to be rushed into decisions and they like to test things out before they spend the money. Give them a taste of what you have to offer by allowing nonmembers to attend – obviously for a fee.
Millennials are a whole new breed of attendees and members. They have different wants, needs, values and more. If you are struggling to attract and/or retain millennial attendees or members, adjust your fit their lifestyle and professional desires. From communicating on their level to accommodating their budget-conscious lifestyle, rethinking your strategy is a must. And, if you have millennials on staff, use them. They’ve got insider knowledge.