Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

June 17 2013

Is Face-to-Face Learning Endangered?

By David McMillin, Staff Writer

As you work to fill seats in those session rooms, here’s a wake-up call: many members of your emerging audience don’t see the need for a physical setting for education.

According to a new study of more than 1,300 American college students, 50 percent of millennials don’t need a physical classroom, and 39 percent believe the future of education will be more virtual.

The study was conducted by Massachusetts-based Gen Y research firm Millennial Branding and California-based Internships.com. While the research focused on perceptions of online colleges, the findings offer some very valuable insights for meeting planners, too.

“Baby Boomers are retiring, and planners are facing pressure to fill seats with a Millennial audience. They need to engage twentysomethings now in order to turn them into loyal attendees,” Mary Reynolds Kane, Senior Director, Experience Marketing, PCMA, says. “It’s clear that this audience is very comfortable with learning opportunities that don’t require face-to-face time.”

SEE ALSO: 6 Steps to Take Your Meeting Hybrid

However, the numbers aren’t all overwhelming for the meetings industry. Seventy-eight percent of respondents indicated that they still believe it’s easier to learn in a traditional classroom than online.

“A hybrid element is by no means a replacement for face-to-face learning,” Reynolds Kane says. “It’s a supplement that can help organizations reach an even bigger audience.”

For the cash-strapped Millennial audience, it’s also a strong introduction.

“Young attendees are the most likely to face financial challenges in getting to and from a  physical event, paying for a hotel room and covering the cost of registration,” Reynolds Kane adds. “As they first launch their careers, a hybrid meeting provides the perfect opportunity for them to get to know an organization and inspire the hunger to be part of the face-to-face meeting in the future.”

SEE ALSO: Money & Hybrid Meetings: Your Questions Answered

Looking for more on what Millennials prefer in meetings? Click here for in-depth insights from the PCMA Education Foundation’s research into how to attract the Millennial generation.

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