Rob Davidson has spent his career attracting the next generation to the MICE industry. He is Managing Director of MICE Knowledge, a consultancy specialising in research, education, and training services for the meetings and events industry and has written seven books on the topic. Davidson earned a doctorate from the University of Greenwich for his thesis Technological and Demographic Factors as Agents of Change in the Development of Business Events in 2015. Last year, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at IBTM World.
A visiting professor in five European universities, Davidson teaches events management and tourism management students — which provides him with insights about the next generation of event professionals. Here is what he had to say:
I’m currently writing a comprehensive book on the business meetings and events industry, which will become a vital tool when teaching students how they can be successful in this great industry. Many of them have bold aims of becoming high-profile party organisers or being charged with the responsibility of organising an iconic international spectacle such as the Olympics opening ceremony. High ambitions are great and we’re not here to dash dreams; our job is to help them understand all areas of the meetings and events industry, so they see that it offers a wide variety of equally challenging, rewarding, and enjoyable career paths for them to follow.
To do this, we must understand and get to know them — and a core part of my Ph.D. research has been understanding Millennials, or, as they are also known, Generation Y. This age group of 20–30-year-olds grew up in the connected world. For them, using technology is not really learned, it’s second nature. They respond well to apps, they’re famous for their short attention span, and will turn to the internet first to find the information they need. They want bite-sized nuggets of information that will help them get on and move up their career ladder. People in Generation Y are ambitious, but work/life balance is also important to them. So [in terms of them as attendees] we have to make a good case to get them to come to an event. We must offer valuable content and deliver it in an engaging way — they call it edutainment.