20 Important Tips to Maximize Millennial Engagement at Your Events
July 11th, 2019
Ever wondered how best to maximize Millennial Engagement at your events? Let’s start by propagating the belief that Millennials in this day and age encompass a mindset. This mindset translates onto the Millennial or Generation Y demographic: the generation that already comprises the largest segment in the workplace and is expected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2030 in the US alone. As stated by Rupa Ganatra, Founding Partner of Millennial 20/20 (now FUTR), “This mindset extends into consumer patterns and behaviors that are having an evolutionary impact on businesses and brands across the globe.” As such, keeping Millennials in mind when organizing your events is an absolutely crucial way of engaging with a vast and significant population. Words that have been used to define this generation include well-educated, entrepreneurial, digitally savvy, achievement-oriented and ambitious.
A study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) found that 61% of Millennials aged 18-27 believe that exhibits at exhibitions, conventions and annual meetings are more valuable today than they were 2 years ago. This is a higher percentage than any other respective age group. So, the good news is that Millennials are already likely to be engaged in your event – your job is to maintain this engagement.
This guide offers 20 things to keep in mind when planning an event that will help maximize Millennial engagement.
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Think Outside the Box
1. Keep Communication as A Top Priority to Enhance Engagement
In a world where Millennials have their phones glued to their fingertips almost 24/7, it is clear that events need to be on the ball with regards to communicating. Providing benefits that young professionals really want is critical. But more importantly, communicating these benefits is key. Our world is bigger, faster, brighter and the demands of Millennials grow accordingly. The next few points will detail thoroughly how you can optimize your communication efforts through technology.
2. Develop Your Webpage and Mobile Apps
Keeping your attendees informed with what is happening via notifications can ensure that those wandering attention spans remain firmly trained on the event at hand. Have a well-established event web page and app broadcasting the latest happenings both before, during and after your event. Event Information has to be accessible and robust. Notifications should come from their devices and not an annoying, screechy tannoy!
3. Make Sure You Have Strong Wi-Fi
It goes without saying that an unstable WiFi connection is a big no-no. Whether or not the stereotype of the Millennial with the short attention span holds true, it is certain that they have come to expect technical convenience and need to be engaged at all times. Ensure your bandwidth is strong enough to accommodate every attendee without delays. Messaging has to be on both websites and their social media – make sure all platforms are covered.
4. Provide Battery Charging Stations
A guest’s phone running out of battery could essentially be game over. Whilst they might admittedly find their time “off-grid” refreshing, their online interaction with the event is curtailed and thus their engagement with the technology made to support the event is not possible. You could combine this prerequisite for the event with an opportunity to satiate the Millennials’ desire for “free stuff” – hand out power-banks with your company’s logo on it.
5. Use Beacon Technology
Allow even more real-time information using this new technology that allows event organizers to send push notifications to guests as they pass certain areas. Attendees will be able to know instantly what vendors, presentations, speakers or information points are nearby satisfying a Millennial craving for instantaneous knowledge.
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Public bathrooms – drop those hashtags wherever you can and encourage people to use it on all platforms when talking about the event. You want to be able to hear that social media buzz ringing in your ears and Millennials want to see what the event community has to post about their experience. Everyone wants to see if an event has been “liked” or “shared” by our peers. Hashtags are now a common part of any event success story.
7. Remember the KISS Principle
Coined in the ’60s and proved widely popular as a slogan in the ’70s, the KISS principle stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid (I claim no credit for the insult). Simplicity is the keyword for Millennials. Their constant exposure to ever-evolving tech has nurtured an addiction to convenience. Any delay in the attendee experience could be irritating and result in consequences for your event engagement. Tickets should be easy to buy and apps easy to install and use. Focus entirely on the ease and speed to keep your guests captivated.
8. Involve Interactivity
Another opportunity to optimize your use of digital tech: Millennials, dubbed as “digital natives”, have grown up in an age of information. About 5 exabytes of information courses through the internet each day – the equivalent to 40,000 two hour standard definition movies per second. However, some strategists are suggesting this age is giving way to the experience age. AI, chatrooms and more have changed the standard one-way transfer of information into a flow between organization and consumer. Millennials want to be involved in conversations and promoting interactivity in your events is, therefore, a necessity. Turn lectures into a dialogue; introduce activities that promote engagement; and capitalize on any opportunities for peer learning.
9. Offer Opportunities to Unplug
Plot twist – because of Millennials’ love-hate relationship with technology, encouraging attendees to unplug can also help encourage their engagement. Having a phone or at least photo free areas can help foster an environment of exclusivity exactly because it cannot be shared with the masses.
10. Keep Sustainability in Mind
This generation is also committed to living “lives of purpose” as well as corporate responsibility and sustainability. According to The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, “Younger generations are putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to supporting businesses that make a positive impact on society.” However, it has also been shown that Millennials have less money to be able to leverage into consumer power. Having an event that shares these sustainable principles allows them to live a socially aware life and scores points for your event.
11. Go Green
Paperless check-in is both an easy and environmentally friendly option. Your mobile event apps should include online registration. The app will also give you a chance to offer promotional discounts, partner collateral, event information, and real-time updates. Additional brownie points from Mother Earth for this one!
12. Encourage Networking
Although the majority of Millennials have grown up alongside a vast online Neverland, this tech-savvy group doesn’t underestimate the value of face-to-face interaction. According to a survey of Millennials conducted by Eventbrite, Ipsos and CrowdDNA “Nearly 80% say that attending live events makes them feel more connected to other people, the community, and the world.” Ensure that your event has plenty of networking opportunities. Facilitate ice breakers to relieve some of the initial pressures that may keep the guests from engaging. Millennials may be the moguls of online networking, but a shove in the right direction can help those who still need the confidence to get involved in person.
13. Offer the Option to Bring a Friend
Make networking less intimidating for your attendees by offering incentives to bring a friend. Studies have found that events that do this often have a higher turn-out among Millennials and consequently have greater Millennial engagement.
14. Make Your Event Family-Friendly
Over half of Millennials are now parents, so making your event family-friendly can be very beneficial to encouraging engagement. There are a variety of options available to achieve this. Offer onsite childcare services or facilities allows parents to relax and get involved without worrying about babysitters. Host games and activities where the whole family can get involved. A positive, integrated experience makes it more likely that Millennial parents will share their positive experience online!
15. Keep the Experience of Your Guests at the Forefront of Your Planning
Experience overlaps significantly with interactivity. Having events that promote the two together is a recipe for success. The Eventbrite study identifies that 75% of Millennials prioritize experiences over products and food. The more unique experiences on offer at your events, the more social media traffic you will receive and Millennial engagement. As we mentioned before, interactive AI and community chatrooms can be part of the equation – but also think of pop-up mini-events, twitter walls, exciting photo opportunities, multi-sensory booths, and live streaming. The list could go on. Consider unique opportunities that aim to augment the attendee experience.
16. Think Through Your Catering Options
Food has become a vital part of an experience too. Frequently dubbed the “phone eats first” generation, Millennial social media activity spikes when there’s interesting, unusual, and delicious – or in other words “insta-worthy” – food around. Correlating your catering with an overall event theme can help cinch that insta-potential foodie post and promotion of your event with it. An interactive food station or bar can hit the nail on the head combining experience, food and photo opportunities to result in a hashtaggable social media post that promotes your organization. Think waffle bars, taco bars, donut walls, coffee foam selfies – or just get creative!
17. Think Outside of The Event
Ticking the experience box again: offering group activities or scheduling events outside the conference will help the event community network before the event and encourage their inter-connectivity during the event. Organizing early morning breakfast meetups or run clubs, or even just offering advice on things to do in the area, will help enhance the overall experience. As we’ve demonstrated, Millennials are all about the experience!
18. Capitalize On FOMO
According to Aubrey Nowowiejski (executive producer at Coterie Spark corporate-event planning firm), FOMO is the buzzword of the moment “It’s all about projecting to your social media network and painting a picture of a phenomenal lifestyle. They (Millennials) chase experiences over things to get those likes and comments and interactions, and that dopamine fix.” Perks for guests of events can help foster a sense of exclusivity that has Millennials keen to get involved with your next event for FOMO. Automatically entering attendees in a draw with a variety of prizes, offering custom favors or swag bags, providing a wealth of exciting food, drinks, experiences and designs all encourage guests to learn more about your event, spread the word, and return.
19. Don’t Forget the Free Stuff: Swag-Bags
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. To elaborate, swag bag = goodie bag. These gifts hark back to the good ol’ days of party bags at kid’s birthday parties but have evolved to replace birthday cake, balloons and small toys with promotional items or samples that advertise your organization. Additional points if you make your swag bag digital, demonstrating a commitment to sustainability Millennials like to see. If you want to stay more traditional, we already have a great article on what to include in your swag-bags – check it out here.
20. Keep Up Your Event Momentum
Keeping your guests engaged after the event further cements the chances of retaining and gaining attendees for the future. A cool idea is to send your guests a thank-you letter with some of the highlights from the event and encourage them to upload their pics using the event hashtags. Having a photo booth or photographer at the event that posts photos a week after will also add to the nostalgia effect – Millennials appreciate any content that can be added to their social media!
There you have it!
Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of events planning for this evolved and digitally demanding demographic. Simply consider the culture in which they were raised: the exponential acceleration of technology, the dawn of virtual connectivity, the vast importance of new trends, the growing appreciation, and understanding of sustainability and the competitive atmosphere that shrouds them. Selfies, hashtags and digital tech dominate in this landscape. Gone are the days of passive consumerism and spectatorship – Millennials want to be actively involved in experiences. Encourage their engagement with your event and ultimately your brand by picking and choosing from this guide what is right for you.