Now more than ever, there’s a mixture of generations that need to be reached in the meeting industry. In any given business you can find Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Yers working hand in hand. While the diversity is beneficial in bringing about an array of ideas, it can be difficult to plan meetings and events that satisfy each individual age group. Snappening presents a few ways to ensure a great experience for every group through a process we like to call generational meeting planning.
First and foremost for your meeting to be successful, you need people to actually attend it and to do so you must understand their motivations. Each generation makes their event attendance decision in a different way. Boomers and Gen Xers often base their decision on financial reasons: “Will the attendance costs be covered by their company? Is the meeting worth the cost? Will attending the meeting help them in the future?” Conversely, younger professionals base their decision more on the meeting extras: “What affordable hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and nightlife options are in the area?” Basically, Generation Y is much more likely to attend the meeting if they think it will be socially beneficial to them. What does this mean to you? Knowing the reasons that are driving your audience to attend will help you drive attendance. Perhaps you could offer incentives like allowing “seasoned professional” attendees to bring an “emerging professional” guest for free to target the younger audience and and provide a conference brochure in both print and online that highlights meeting benefits, but also meeting extras such as Wi-Fi connection corners, coffee breaks, peer groups, nightlife ideas and social media swaps—ways for people to extend their experience outside just the brief conference timeframe.
With rapid technological advancements, there has been a noticeable decrease in the need for physical location for a meeting space. Gen Yers have a tendency to prefer webinars, podcasts and streaming video services to obtain information because it is less formal and structured. However, many Boomers and Gen Xers aren’t ready to make the jump to using strictly web resources and abandoning face-to-face traditional meetings. To satisfy each generation, you can combine traditional and nontraditional venue elements. Maybe you use traditional seating arrangements with completely modern chairs and tables. It’s a simple and nice way to include something each generational will like. Or, consider a combination of classroom-style and soft seating options should breakouts allow for this mix.
Presentations & Materials
PowerPoint presentations have become common among the Boomers and Gen Xers because it’s a simple program that is still often very structured. However, younger professionals don’t crave that same kind of structured presentation. If PowerPoint works best for your meeting, use it. But try to incorporate more organic designs to grab the attention of the younger professionals. Apps, tablets and SmartPhones have become very useful as a way to access information instantly, so it’s a good idea to look into developing a way to share your meeting information on one of those platforms for gen Yers and Millennials. For other generations, or any one who is less tech savvy, you may still provide project binders or hard copy materials they can be used to obtain the same information. That way, each attendee has the option and it gives those who are unfamiliar with the technology the chance to slowly become acquainted with it.
Social media continues to grow and is a very useful meeting tool. Attendees should be aware of the information available to them through the meeting organizer’s Facebook and Twitter accounts so they may follow them for information during meetings as needed. However, it should not be assumed that every attendee will create a personal social media account for the meeting to follow along. To cater to those who don’t have an existing online presence, consider having screens that project Twitter messages and conversations for everyone to see. If the venue you are using does not have that capability, you may collect Twitter or Facebook information and posts to put into a follow-up email, or consider adding a A/V package and WiFi connecting to an existing space to increase engagement.
The whole point of generational meeting planning is to make sure that all age groups are getting the necessary information in a way that makes sense to them and that they enjoy. It’s important to offer new technology options in meetings and to teach attendees how to use each technology, but not to make it the only option. this can be a lot to remember, so if you need help planning your meeting so each generation’s needs are met, consider hiring a professional meeting planner. Or, if you still haven’t selected a meeting venue, try our venue search option.