How to: design events for millennial and Gen Z delegates

Millennials are expected to dominate the global workforce by the end of 2020, while hot on their heels, the Gen Z-ers are already having an impact on the way we structure our working lives. James Kent, sales director Europe at Event Travel Management UK, tells us why a new-age mindset, hyper-connectivity and a focus on ethics are all vital to cater for the new breed of event delegate.

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.

James Kent

James Kent

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, high impact, technology such as customisable event apps, live streaming and digital walls into the overall event strategy, as an effort to drive 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 event’s foundation and provide a great source of digital information for effective ROI measurement.

App technology encourages audience participation

For example, at the request of one customer to facilitate a more social environment for staff from various offices meeting for the first time, ETM developed a social wall within the customer’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.

App technology also encourages audience participation during speaker sessions, mitigating 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 an event? We are also observing new trends emerge in the format and theme of events, as businesses adhere to a heightened consideration of CSR. After all, studies show that societal impact and ethics are the most common reasons why millennials change their relationship with businesses.

Increasingly we are asked by customers to report on the environmental impact of their events, and to recommend a strategy to minimise this impact. In response, our travel analysis provides a carbon calculation so we can work out the most sustainable way for your delegates to travel. We also propose venues that are forward thinking and evidence their initiatives to becoming more sustainable.

Customers are also requesting that team-builds include activities with a charitable or ethical element. 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.

While incorporating ethical elements into your event activities is a great way to engage your millennial and Gen Z audience, it often involves a lot of time and effort. That’s why it’s important to partner with an event agency that has experience in creating tailored event solutions, recommending suppliers that align to your company’s values and initiatives, whilst considerately managing your budget.