Millennials, new generation of mice visitors

Executive Summary 

Millennials or Generation Y are often the children of baby boomer. As their number continues to grow and surpass the previous generation in global workforce, it’s important to understand their differences in behavior so that business activities can be adjusted to match their needs. In MICE industry, Meetings and events can be a platform for millennials to seek new experiences, expand their networks and personalize their career paths. In order to catch their attentions, design of event is the key as they value more on experience than physical things. And to reach millennials, the best way to communicate with them is via Social Media. Thus, MICE’s stakeholder should form a new strategy with the understanding of millennials’ behavior. For instance, event planner can implement a live polling or create a gamification to promote their involvement and interaction. This will ensure the accomplishment of MICE activities.
Key Fact and Figures:

  • In 2020, millennials will be the largest workforce population in the world, according to Forbes, an American business magazine.
  • According to the survey by Pew Research Center, an American nonpartisan organization, mobile marketing is a must-have channel to reach millennials because 92% of them owned a smartphone and 85% of them used it to access social media.
  • MMGY Global, a travel and hospitality marketing company, reported that millennials took an average of 8 business trips per year while generation X and baby boomers took around 6 trips per year.
  • According to Eventbrite, an event management and ticketing website, 75% of millennials said that they value experience more than physical things.

Who are millennials?

Millennials refer to the group of people who were born in the early 1980’s until mid-1990’s. In 2018, the number of millennials exceeded 2.4 billion which accounted for 32% of the world population. According to Forbes, an American business magazine, by 2020, millennials will dominate half of the global workforce and command $200 billion in annual purchasing power. They were described as a digital native because they grew up with internet and smartphone. Thus, their characteristics and behaviors are different from previous generations. In general, they are described as a unique individual who wants to express their thoughts, but they are impatient. Moreover, technology-rich environment has influenced their attitude toward daily life as they seek more activities outside their works and value the importance of balance between work and life.

What millennials need from MICE industry?

Millennials still want meetings, the right one.

Millennials join meetings and events with multiple purposes such as seeking new experiences, expanding their network and personalizing their career paths. In order to deliver the suitable MICE activities, it is essential to understand their needs. Firstly, face-to-face events are the best answer for millennials to express their thoughts and share their experiences. They still value face-to-face communication above other methods because they can sense the real feeling, emotion and reaction from their conversation partners. Secondly, by offering them choices, a multi-faceted event gives millennials more than one reason to join. It allows millennials to choose on which session they want to spend their time because each individual surely has more than one interest. Several events had adopted this concept to hold their events. For example, South by Southwest Music Festivals offered small health and wellness events, Chicago Gourmet added morning yoga in its food festivals and Gilroy Garlic Festival hosted the “Crafts Alley” where local artisans can sell their wares. Besides, unique experience is the key to impress millennials as 75% of them value experience more than physical things according to Eventbrite, an event management and ticketing website. Millennials want to participate in activities that provide extra experience that is different from their daily life. It can be achieved by either creating creative events or following their personal values. One example of the creative events is Game On Exhibition and Festival 2018 in Shenzhen, China. The interior hall was transformed with classic video game theme and the entire space looked like a huge pixel maze. It turned the event’s atmosphere into an exciting experience. Another example is about sharing millennials’ values by integrating corporate social response (CSR) into the event. Because millennials love the idea of giving back, it helps them feel a sense of fulfillment while they can have fun at the same time.

In the mind of millennials

Although there are differences in behaviors of every generation, millennials are the first generation that embraced the significant change of technology from analog to digital. It affected their behavior dramatically as they differently perceived and processed information. Thus, event organizers should think thoroughly when planning the event.

  •  Location – A smart venue that can create new experiences and make engagement simpler, such as London Kings Place with HD streaming capabilities, NH Hotels with hologram presentation or Swiss Tech Convention Center with instantly rearranged hall, would be an ideal place as it is infused with technology to enhance communication and versatility. In addition, Accessibility of the venue and nearby places must be considered before holding the event because millennials want to explore the city with friendly public transportation.  
  •  Sustainability – Millennials pay attention on surrounding things and they have high awareness of its impact to social, economy and environment. They are more likely to participate in events that share this value because they do feel like they are a part of the positive impact to the world. There are many ways to make an event more sustainably such as using an upcycled material, providing a waste station, reducing a paper trail or using green power source. 
  •  Personalization – Millennials want a customer-centric experience from service providers who understand their preferences and make the suggestions to their specific needs. Additionally, they want others to treat them as a different individual. In meetings and events, it can be done by effectively using attendee’s data for analysis and then responses with personalized actions based on their interests during the event. 
  •  Collaboration – Millennials are always looking for the new opportunities to expand their networks as they want to feel connected with others. One way to promote the collaboration among millennials is to create a group activity like Hackathon or Thinkathon in the event. This will encourage millennials to engage with others. 
  •  Interactivity – Event planner should not let millennials join only for listen but should let them participate in activities. They are active participants and would like to be immersed in the event from start to finish. Involving millennials can be achieved in a variety of ways. For instance, providing digital discussion boards, doing a scavenger hunt, conducting a live voting and arranging them to connect with each other. All of these can make them feel like they are a part of the event.

Adaptation for MICE industry

Strategies to engage with millennials

Even though millennials possess diversified and unique behaviors, the techniques to engage them are not always tricky. It is all about creating interaction and meaningful experience. There are several methods to encourage their engagement. First way is to apply gamification into the events. This technique intends to leverage millennials’ desires for competition, socializing and learning. As millennials’ attendees are competitive in nature, a small friendly competition with reasonable rewards will boost the overall engagement. Second way to reach millennials is via smartphone since 92% of them owned a smartphone and 85% of them used it to access social media according to the survey in 2018 by Pew Research Center, an American nonpartisan organization. Millennials love to not only share their moment on social media but also follow their friends, favorite brands, blogger, events and more. Besides, mobile event application is an optional tool; however, its functions such as polling, voting and feedback can significantly increase the engagement throughout the event. Another way is to drive engagement with content. Millennials only pay attention to things that deserves their attention. Thus, it is better to create a short and concise content. Moreover, they are influenced by those who share their perspective, so authenticity and passion are the key for making them want to be engaged.

Alternative ways to hold an event

Interactive technology such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can use for displaying products to increase engagement and enhance experience. At the League of legends World Championship 2018 in South Korea, the AR band, which consists of 4 characters from the video game, joined real-life artists on stage to show a performance during the opening ceremony. It left the impression to the audience especially those who favor these 4 characters. Moreover, at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2019, the event offered the AR-equipped stage for the audiences to interact with space-themed augmented experience that responds and reacts to the crowd and musical performance in real time. Furthermore, at the Unite Los Angeles 2018, the event’s organizers aim to heighten the guest experience with their technology. They created the unique VR and AR gallery at the event venue for showing intangible goods. Visitors can see the beautiful and amazing digital product via their smartphones.

Slido, an audience engagement platform for meetings and events, opens new opportunities for millennials to involve in alternative way of presentation. A lecture-style presentation is not attractive to millennials as they are getting bored while they sit still and only listen to the speaker. There are better ways to pass the contents with interesting method. For example, a panel discussion or a fireside chat is an informal conversation between a moderator and speakers. When it integrates with Slido, the moderator can ask the audience’s questions which help audience feel heard throughout the session. As a result of Jam conference, Slido able to increase the audiences’ engagement to 70% with over 500 questions from 600 attendees.

Social activity in the event will connect more and more millennials. For example, an interactive photo area like digital graffiti wall can give millennials a story to share on social media. It also helps promote the event and expand the reach to other millennials. Consequently, it will attract more of them to the event. Another example of social activity is “After party”. It is an extension from main event by using foods and drinks. It can increase the interaction among each other with a casual atmosphere which will help attendees feel more connected.