8 Things to Avoid When Engaging Millennials at Meetings

Meeting Seminar Conference Business Collaboration Team Concept

Meeting Seminar Conference Business Collaboration Team Concept

Millennials comprise of a huge chunk of the country’s demographic. This is the audience you should have your sights set on. Here’s the thing: millennials have very peculiar characteristics.

They take notice of the little things. This is why you have to be very careful of your strategy as there are little nuances here and there that may put them off. There are no-no’s that you should take heed of when hosting an event or meeting with mostly millennials in attendance.

1. Avoid High Ticket Prices

Many millennials are in college or just a few years removed from college. They are all too familiar with living off of Ramen and water in order to keep their budget in check. For this reason, they are easily put off by high prices.

You don’t have to drastically bring prices down, but you should give them offers to take advantage of, such as early bird ticket sales or even a chance to win a free ticket from a social media contest. Millennials also enjoy attending events in groups, so consider adding discounts for bulk ticket purchases.

2. Poor Reception and Wi-Fi

Millennials came of age just as the digital era came to prominence. It’s no wonder then that many can hardly remember a time when Internet access was nonexistent. For this group, texting, tweeting, and selfies are part of everyday routine.

If your venue has crappy reception or Wi-Fi access that goes in and out, the audience is not going to simply shrug it off. You can also bet that that’s going to be a common complaint in post-event surveys. They may also be less likely to recommend the event to friends because of it.

Be absolutely sure to test the venue’s reception and Wi-Fi beforehand.

3. Lack of Mingling

Millennials are a social bunch, but that doesn’t mean they are always of the extrovert variety. Yes, they like to mingle, but it can be hard for them to initiate a conversation without a little nudge on your end. This is why you should include ice breakers. Whatever activity you choose, be sure that it requires some form of interaction between strangers.

Once people begin intermingling, they can take it from there on their own, but you have to be the one to get the ball rolling.

4. Water Bottles

Wait, what? How does water bottles factor into this conversation? Here’s the deal: avoid serving bottled water. 81% of millennials indicated that they will favor companies that display some form of consideration for the environment.

Water bottles spend thousands of years sitting in a landfill; they’re also a lot pricier than dispensable water with Styrofoam cups, so making the transition has that secondary benefit of saving you money. In addition, include recycle bins nearby. You can take that even a step further by including a compost bin where attendees can discard their food scraps.

5. Lack of Mobile Integration

A millennial without a smartphone is the exception, not the norm. With that in mind, use an event app to create custom event schedules and live alerts that users can download. This also prevents you from having to print out paper schedules, which again contributes to needless eco waste and can be a turnoff for millennials.

Use an app that enables users to customize their own schedule based on the workshops or lectures they wish to attend. Additionally, meeting areas and tradeshow booths can also contain QR codes that can be scanned for additional free content.

6. Lack of Social Media Focus

Just as you need to make the event smartphone-friendly, you also need to do the same for social media. Millennials are the generation that eats, sleeps, and breathes social media. It’s a given that guests are going to be sending posts on their social network channels throughout the event. These posts may or may not have anything to do with your event.

To ensure more of the former, add a few digital signage systems showing all posts and selfies related to your event. When attendees see what others are saying, they’ll be less shy about chiming in and lending their own two cents.

7. Monotonous Material

For many millennials, the memories of sitting through boring class lectures are still fresh in their minds. Don’t make them relive those moments with a presenter or speaker that reads straight out of a textbook or just shows a few slides. Speakers should be people who are charismatic and can entertain an audience just as much as inform them.

Some people have a natural gift for keeping people at the edges of their seat. This is the type of speaker you want to bring in. Otherwise, the audience will be texting in the middle of the lecture about how they’re being lulled to sleep.

The same needs to be done for workshops, exhibits, and booths. Include some type of interactive content and demos for a more hands-on learning and experience.

8. Rigid Schedule

Millennials also like some flexibility. An overly rigid schedule with a lecture at this time, lunch at a later time, and a seminar an hour after that won’t sit well with a young audience. Don’t be afraid to opt for a somewhat loose schedule where events overlap.

There is nothing wrong with having a presenter speak while attendees are eating, or having a workshop coincide with a seminar where attendees can freely go back and forth as they see fit.
Make Millennials Your Priority

Millennials can be a complicated bunch, but if you can tap into their brain, then you have all the tools and knowledge needed to cater your events and meetings to their liking.

Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at VenueSeeker, a comprehensive online venue guide based in the UK. Dan has 5 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events and currently he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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