5 Ways Events Can Meet Multi-Generational Needs

Being responsive to generational needs of event attendees is one defining characteristic of today’s successful events.

It’s a new world for meeting planners. Attendees want more control over the agenda. They also want meetings to be meaningful experiences, include more technology and be held in a destination that connects to the purpose of an event and also has wider visitor appeal.

Here’s a look at how to make the most of these trends when planning your next meeting.

Allow attendees to control the agenda

Customization and personalization are growing trends in many areas of life, and this rings true in event organization, as well. Attendees feel inherently more invested and involved in a meeting or event if they’ve helped create the agenda.

THAT Conference, the technology-focused “Summer Camp for Geeks,” embraced this trend, featuring unstructured programming paths where attendees could create and shape the agenda by hosting conversations for others to join.

How? There was a giant board for sharing numbered meeting areas and time slots. If you had a topic you wanted to discuss, you wrote the topic on a post-it and selected when and where you wanted to host the discussion.

If you decided you wanted to discuss paper airplanes at breakout space 4 at 10:30 a.m., you went there at that time with others who were interested. Breakout session were hosted by attendees with unlimited topics of interest.

Understand generational travel trends

In 2016, millennials — the generation born between 1981 and 1996 — became the largest segment of potential meeting attendees in the Unites States at 35 percent.

At the same time, a 2018 survey by Travel Weekly found that 55 percent of people ages 23-38 were likely to travel in 2019, compared to 31 percent of those ages 39-54, and 20 percent of those ages 55 and older.

A planner looking to maximize attendance should know that younger generations are more likely to travel—for business and for vacations, and often on trips that combine both. Consider this when determining who you’re seeking to target with your event.

Select a purposeful destination

Planners of larger events are looking past the major metropolises and considering mid-sized cities for event locations. “Second-Tier” cities often offer what experience-hungry attendees are looking for: authenticity and culture.

Multi-generational attendees are looking to combine business and leisure (“bleisure”) travel. A destination’s offsite offerings are the second most important driver (78 percent) for making a decision to attend a meeting.

In short, multi-generational attendees still want to travel for professional purposes—but it doesn’t hurt if the trip also feels like a vacation .

Offer valuable experiences

Today’s planners need to dream up fresh event concepts that provide meaning, innovation and insight.

In essence, people want added value out of the meetings they attend. They want to be left with an experience they can reflect and learn from, even once they return home. One great example: The “Snowball Fight” at the 2016 Meeting Planners International (MPI) European Meetings and Events Conference.

No, it wasn’t outdoors. Delegates were asked to write industry-related questions on sheets of paper. Then they were told to scrunch them up and throw them at one another. After the fun, some “snowballs” were scooped up by energized attendees and discussed in smaller groups. The unconventional experience added value to the meeting because it was interactive and memorable.

Leverage technology but embrace disconnecting

Technology can help engage and keep the attention of attendees during breakout sessions and can boost a planner’s bottom line. It can decrease costs, increase productivity and increase attendance by helping to do better marketing, manage guests efficiently, map out event details and track ROI. Meeting planners can leverage a venue’s available technology to record sessions for a “virtual event” or offer programming to members unable to attend.

While tech integration often offers a deeper, richer experience, disconnecting for a short period of time can be just as impactful. Meeting planners can offer a tech-free path for those looking to disconnect or those less comfortable with technology. A “disconnection zone” gives attendees the chance to check their tech devices at the door for focus and concentration during the event.

Kalahari hosts meetings that meet generational needs

Our team can assist you in planning a game-changing event for multiple generations. And, we’ve just doubled the size of our convention center in Wisconsin. Expansions are also in progress at our properties in Pennsylvania (Pocono Mountains, late 2019) and Texas (Round Rock, November 2020). Call our sales team at 855.411.4605 to schedule your site visit today.