Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 10 2014

Busting 3 Big Millennial Attendee Myths

By David McMillin

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Over the past few years, the Millennial generation has dominated headlines in the meetings industry. What can planners do to engage this emerging group of attendees? How will these tech-savvy post-graduates impact the future of face-to-face? Will their preferences completely disrupt the exhibit floor?

While some studies have provided answers to these questions that support the stereotypes that have been pinned on Millennials, understanding this audience is not so simple. In fact, some of the most commonly held beliefs about this generation are wrong. Here’s a look at three myths about Millennials and what the truth means for your next meeting.

Myth #1: They only care about making money.

Some call them entitled. Some call them selfish. Some think they don’t work hard enough. It turns out that Millennials are doing plenty of thinking, though. They’re thinking about how they can change the world.

“The next generation of attendees is more motivated by mission than money,” Mike Walsh, CEO of innovation research lab Tomorrow and author Futuretainment, says.

They’re also thinking about how they can enjoy their lives more while they’re doing it. A recent study from PwC shows that more Millennials are focused on achieving a true balance between their professional personal lives. In fact, some studies show that plenty of them are willing to take pay cuts in order to enjoy their lives more.

What The Truth Means For Your Meeting: Now, don’t let these statistics make you think that Millennials are carefree about their careers. Like any driven professional, they’re still looking for networking opportunities at your next meeting. However, they will also be looking for your organization to show a bigger purpose. From including on-site volunteer opportunities to curating educational sessions that look at larger global issues, today’s Millennial attendee wants to feel like their registration fees will make them part of a community that’s making a real difference.

SEE ALSO: 4 Tips To Manage Your Multi-Generational Attendee Base

Myth #2: They don’t read paper programs, paper documents or paper anything.

Who needs books? Or magazines? Or newspapers? Well, it turns out that Millennials do. Despite a well-documented decline in the print industry, young readers professing their love of printed materials. In a 2011 survey of 600 respondents between the ages of 16 and 26, 78 percent of Millennials preferred paper books over digital, and 71 percent preferred physical magazines.

“They are living in a digital world,” Kristi Sarmiento, research director, TRU, says. “Yet, paper continues to play a significant role. There is a place for paper in their lives.”

What The Truth Means For Your Meeting: These figures don’t automatically mean that meeting planners should discontinue their strategies to shift to digital programs. The majority of Millennials respect organizations that make conscious efforts to reduce paper consumption, and those 100-page registration brochures certainly fall into the overconsumption category. However, you may want to make sure your meeting marketing department recognizes that paper still carries a lot of figurative weight: 57 percent of respondents preferred receiving a mailed invitation over an evite, and 55 percent favored a handwritten letter versus an email.

SEE ALSO: Why Trade Shows Aren’t Going Paperless Anytime Soon

Myth #3: They want to do everything behind a screen.

Millennials may spend plenty of time posting status updates and swiping smartphones and tablets, but when this generation gets away from home, they’re looking to embrace the outside world. Seventy-eight percent of Millennials want to learn something new while they’re traveling, and 70 percent are looking for immersive, interactive experiences.

What The Truth Means For Your Meeting: If your host city is hip enough, they don’t just want to stay for the convention, either. A recent study from Expedia and Egencia revealed that 56 percent of Millennials extend business trips into leisure trips.

As you work to attract and engage young attendees, it’s important to remember how this longing for new experiences impacts their decision on whether they should register for your meeting. Be sure to work closely with the convention visitors bureau to understand what local opportunities you can promote to the youngest members of your audience. Give them more than a reason to come to the convention; paint the portrait of the entire experience. What can they can do in their downtime? Why should they should be excited about what’s happening outside the boundaries of the meeting? How they can turn a three-day conference into a five-day exploration of a new destination?

SEE ALSO: Making Sense Of The Millennial Generation

This educational article was brought to you by a city that continues to stand out on the map for Millennial business and leisure travelers alike. From countless live music destinations to a bustling food truck scene to endless opportunities to explore the outdoors, its no wonder why more Millennials are making plans to visit Austin and then making plans to return again. Click here to learn more about how your youngest attendees can experience True Austin.

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