For the first time in history, we have five generations in the U.S. labor force. This is due to a greater life expectancy, an increased divorce rate, more women in the workplace and, because of the current talent shortage, some choosing to forgo college and enter a vocation right out of high school.

This can be a challenge for event planners, whose mission it is to bring employees or association members together to accomplish shared goals. Here is a snapshot of the things you should know about each generation and strategies to help you get and keep each generation at your event.

Silent: Ages 73 to 90 Years Old

  • Makes up 3 percent of workforce
  • Major attributes: loyal, traditionalist, hardworking
  • Email and direct mail are the best marketing tools

Setting a Strategy

If they have always come to your event, they will continue to do so. They dislike change. If you give them something to do, they will make sure it is completed.

If your event has a lot of these attendees, keep your event the same from year to year. Clearly communicate when change is needed and who can help them transition. Get them involved in the conference as facilitators, volunteers or mentors.

Boomers: Ages 55 to 72 Years Old

  • Makes up 25 percent of workforce
  • Major attributes: loyal, ambitious, self-motivated
  • Email is the best marketing tool

Setting a Strategy

If they have always come to your event, they will continue to do so. They are internally motivated and don’t require much feedback. Typically, in positions of power – chief executive officers, presidents or executive directors – they are the decision-makers. They are interested in continuous learning.

As well-established attendees, they want professional development but don’t have the time or interest in anything else. Allow for Continuing Education Units (CEUs). This generation is the least interested in networking because their career is already established, so focus on great content and speakers. Email them one feedback survey at the end of your conference.


Generation X: Ages 38 to 54 Years Old

  • Makes up 33 percent of workforce
  • Major attributes: work-life balance, entrepreneurial, minimum supervision
  • Email and social media are the best marketing tools

Setting a Strategy

This generation looks for positions with flexible schedules and the opportunity to telecommute and is not necessarily loyal to their employer. They will take risks and can figure a lot of things out for themselves. They believe in promotions based purely on competency.

This attendee segment is most likely to want to bring their families to the meeting or conference, especially if the venue can accommodate their needs. While they will be all yours from 8 to 5, they will want to return to their families in the evening. If you want to test out a new function or forum at your conference, this is the best segment to do it with as they are risk-tolerant. They flourish in a lecture-style conference, take notes and like independent exercises.


Millennials: Ages 21 to 37 Years Old

  • Makes up 35 percent of workforce
  • Major attributes: tech savvy, collaborative, love structure
  • Social media and texting app are the best marketing tools

Setting a Strategy

This generation looks for a good cultural fit when they take a job. They like flexible schedules, embrace the latest technology and are interested in immediate feedback. They are looking for learning opportunities but are open to using videos to help them. They dislike email and will often ignore it.

You will need to replace paper with apps that run on their phones or mobile devices. They will look for collaborative sessions where they can solve problems. Since this generation grew up on video games, they are most interested in gamification apps to enhance learning. Often relying on YouTube to learn something new, they are most likely to view livestreaming from your event.


Generation Z: Ages 13 to 20 Years Old

  • Makes up 4 percent of workforce
  • Major attributes: tech savvy, prefer F2F meetings, transparent
  • YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and texting app are the best marketing tools

Setting a Strategy

This generation is interested in mentorship and requires constant feedback. They love to play games. However, even with all the technology options, they prefer face-to-face communication.

Much like the generation before them, feedback is important. However, in their case, it must be constant. They expect structure at conferences and are open to clear directions. The expectation is you will use social channels and group texts constantly to inform them.

Key Marketing Ideas

As I initially mentioned, marketing to all five generations can be tricky, time-consuming and costly. In addition, if you try to be all things to all attendees, your conference ends up being nothing to no one. Try these concepts:

  • Prioritize your attendees.
    Chances are you are not attracting all generations. Put your targets in Class A, B or C. In other words, perhaps you are trying to attract Gen X (Class A), boomers (B) and millennials (C). Your marketing strategy needs to follow accordingly.
  • Company meetings and retreats are most likely to have all generations represented.
    Off-site meetings are a great way for different segments to understand each other better in a more relaxed environment.
  • Try these cross-generational ideas:
    • Team Building: These activities are meant to engage each generation and help express how each one thinks.
    • Trivia: Divide teams up equally from each generation and create questions from every segment. The team with the most correct answers wins a prize.
    • Host a board game night. This has made a comeback and is fun.
    • Assigned meal seating: Each generation should be represented at every table.

About Kalahari Resorts and Conventions

When you need an off-site venue, consider Kalahari Resorts and Conventions! We have locations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and coming soon to Texas. With the assistance of our group sales professionals, your event will have everything it needs! Call (855) 411-4605 today to learn more.