Getting Millennials to Engage

Susana de la Peña

Industry Lead Travel & Hospitality at GfK

1. Millennials refer to people born between 1980 and 1993. They are digital natives who, in many cases, prefer the online environment to real life. What does this generation appreciate in events and meetings?

Those belonging to this generation, contrary to what we might think given how at home they are in the digital environment, are very inclined to participate in face-to-face meetings and events. This is because they gain professional skills this way and expand their knowledge, among other reasons. Let’s not forget that the professional sphere is increasingly competitive. Such events also offer them the perfect occasion to network, something that is highly valued by this generation.

2. Millennials will represent a significant part of the work force in the coming years. How can corporate meetings adapt to this new segment in order to meet their needs?

Firstly, by adapting to the concept of “hybrid events”, where the audience transcends the meeting room and can be attended by anyone who decides to participate in real time via live streaming, blog posts, social media, apps, etc. Thus, being adequately equipped in terms of technology and specialised technical staff is essential. Along these same lines, it is also important to be flexible, to get away from formalities, and let everything take place in an increasingly less restricted environment, where interaction between participants is facilitated. Finally, the importance of the experiential component must be highlighted. Millennials like feeling that each event they participate in is different and inspiring. This can be achieved through everything from holding the meeting in a landmark place or simply by customising the coffee break or adapting the room itself to the needs of the client, and always within the context of caring  for the environment and sustainability, aspects which, by the way, come as natural to them as technology does.

3. What are the primary obstacles to adapting events to the Millennial generation, and what facilitates them?

Without a doubt the main obstacle I find is a lack of flexibility – the inability to break away from the rigidness that has perhaps characterised corporate events up until relatively recently. On the other hand, anything that implies an adaptation to each target audience and generating memorable experiences and maybe even – why not?–adding a bit of fun in there, will give you a competitive edge.  It goes without saying that there should be a solid technological component, that is both technically advanced and that is supported by specialised staff.

4. What will this change mean for companies?

In line with my previous answer, those who don’t manage to hold hybrid events that are interconnected and that at the same time foster interaction, flexibility, and the creation of experiences, will not be competitive and will be increasingly less attractive as a workplace for new generations compared with those who do.

5. Given that our audience consists of digital natives, where does the mobile device fit into meetings?

It has a place, without a doubt. Millennials consider their mobile devices to be practically an extension of their hand. Thus it is absolutely essential to incorporate them into the corporate event environment. This enables the generation of real-time commentary via social media, forums, and blogs; the visualisation of talks via streaming; or it even allows users to consult everything from who will participate and when to the nature of the audience attending and who they might like to network with by accessing apps specifically designed for this purpose. In addition, the more you foster the use of mobile devices – from an event-planning point of view – the more you generate “buzz”, which will enable you to increase the impact of your event.
6. In conclusion, what are the main strategies that affect Millennials’ engagement?

In my view, the following would be the points that must not be overlooked: 

  • Organise hybrid events that combine a face-to-face element with an online element, fostering interaction between the two.
  • At the same time, develop content on specific websites and apps and have specialised staff in charge of maintaining and managing these platforms.
  • Customise the meeting to the extent possible so that adaptation to the needs of the sector and audience is maximised in order to generate memorable, inspirational experiences.
  • Try to be flexible. Avoid formalities and encourage networking in a way that is as fluid as possible.