While tradeshow and event managers pride themselves on creativity, the basic structure and components of special events have been somewhat tried and true. A recent report by Amsterdam RAI demonstrates why savvy companies are smart to look at events and event marketing with a whole new light. Changing demographics = changing demands, and the younger generations have explicit expectations for how they wish to be engaged. According to the report, Millennials crave engagement and Generation X continues to be skeptical.
This corroborates the experiences of many professional association clients that have expressed frustration with younger generations not attending their flagship events, such as annual conferences, with the same consistency and enthusiasm as their Baby Boomer members have reliably demonstrated for years. We’re seeing that the difference is directly related to generational values.
For example, Boomers value face time while Gen Xers value personal time. It stands to reason then, that Boomers will place a priority on gathering with their peers for a week of education and networking while Gen Xers will need to be convinced of reasons to spend several days away from family and friends.
Similarly, while the Boomers place great trust in authority and therefore may be attracted to keynote speakers and marquee presenters, Millennials put more faith in their own experience and will be drawn to events where they can be part of the action. Hands on learning labs and collaborative activities are likely to increase attendance.
Apply creativity to the event structure, not just the themes, and you may find a greater range of generations present and engaged.
Whether to retrain for a new career or to make the most of retirement, Baby Boomers are headed back to school, specifically local and community colleges, in large numbers.
According to the American Association of Community Colleges, nearly 400,000 Boomers are enrolled in their member institutions nationwide. Those figures are up 6% from 2007 and 12% from 2005.
To accommodate the onslaught of Boomers, a number of colleges have joined the Plus 50 Initiative. The initiative is a collection of programs designed to make campus life more user friendly for an aging population. The programs also aim to shorten the timetable for completion.
“What we’re trying to offer them is accelerated programs that will not take them long periods of time to complete,” said a program coordinator at one of the Plus 50 schools, “We know there’s a need out there. And it’s conducive in that age category.”