Association Insights


Millennial marketing: Top 5 tips to engage a new generation at events

Sep 13 2016

Content provided by Québec City Business Destination

As more and more millennials (Gen Y) enter the workforce and attend tradeshows and conferences, meetings planners are decidedly looking for ways to entice and engage these new professionals. Catering to the millennial mindset and needs does not have to be rocket science. And it doesn’t have to entail alienating other attendees.

As is the case with any event, kick off your event strategy planning by identifying the personas of each type of event attendee (baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and, soon, Gen Z!) and understanding what makes them tick.

Without over-generalizing, it’s important to keep in mind the key characteristics millennials have before you build your event strategy and budget. By taking into account these traits, you’ll be able to create an event that will attract Gen Y’s to your event and keep them engaged long after it’s over.

Here’s what research suggests about millennials and tips on what you need to add to your overall event plan:

Millennials are passionate about what they believe in and have high expectations for the values businesses and associations have.

1. Event tip: Your event’s overarching theme and messaging must be meaningful, authentic and tied to values or goals that will be perceived as making the world a better place. In other words, traditional, smarmy advertising just won’t cut it. Build a communications plan around how your event is pushing change in the industry and stay authentic.

Millennials are constantly connected and harness the power of technology more than any other generation.

2. Event tip: This generation is very tech-oriented; many don’t even remember the time before the Internet. Because they crave the latest and greatest tech innovations and social media platforms, you really need to be attuned to what’s on trend now. Incorporating the latest technology in your event includes ditching paper handouts and print banners and opting for digital alternatives, such as mobile aps, interactive kiosks and signage systems. State of the art venues like the Québec City Convention Centre can assist you in finding the right technology solutions for your next tradeshow or convention.

Millennials are social and have a heightened need to collaborate.

3. Event tip: Your event and its dialogue must be on social media. There are a couple of aspects that come into play here. For one, Millennials need to interact and be part of the conversation. Leverage the power of social media to not only generate a buzz for your event but also to get millennials to contribute to your event content. Make them feel as though they are actually contributing to your event—not just mindlessly attending one-way presentations. In addition, millennials enjoy interacting in groups. Make your content shareable and reward millennials for either sharing content or getting colleagues to participate in your event (think: discounts, contests or rewards).

Millennials have shorter attention spans.

4. Event tip: Chock this up to constant changes in technology. What this means is that you need to craft an event ecosystem—way before your event starts and way after it ends. Start promoting your event in advance and using multiple channels, such as email, social media, mobile app, text messaging, etc. Make sure your event’s website is constantly updated and offers valuable information about your industry and market trends. After your event, keep the communication flowing on key takeaways and how your event is impacting the sector. If you only relegate your messages to a few emails and posts here and there, Gen Ys will have long since checked out and forgotten about your event.  

Millennials crave newness and adventure.

5. Event tip: All work and no play makes your event old school. After-hour activities are a must; again, think about millennials need for peer-to-peer interaction and organize group tours or sports activities. Choose accommodations that are close to tourism venues. For example, Hilton Québec is located in the heart of Québec City—and its must-see tourist attractions. Have them discover venues or idiosyncrasies of your host city that will surprise them. Consider ways you can even add a touch of novelty during your event; for example, are there ways you can schedule learning sessions with a touch of play? Can you hold a “scavenger-type” run to incite attendees to visit all booths at a tradeshow? Rather than inundate delegates with presentation after presentation, can you mix it up with roundtable discussions?

Bridging the gap between generations for an event does not have to be a daunting task. While it takes a bit of research, creativity and planning, tapping into what will truly interest millennials will actually go a long way in engaging all of your delegates. After all, who doesn’t like sharing, being a part of a group, discovering new things and having fun?

To learn more about engaging young event goers amongst Quebec City’s vibrant culture, our experienced representatives are on hand to help you plan your next event.

Visit Québec City Business Destination Blog.