Ken Holsinger, Freeman’s SVP of Strategy, was kind enough to share his internal research on millennials with our group. It’s super-important to understand what millennials want, regardless of what business you’re in, because they are quickly in line for succession… of everything.
The bottom line, says Holsinger is that “The Millennial Generation is now the largest segment of the US population. They represent the shift from the Information Age to the Experience Age, prioritizing experiences such as traveling instead of traditional expectations such as getting married and having kids.”
“The rapid retirement of boomers during the pandemic, coupled with Gen X being a significantly smaller generation, means millennials have been quickly thrust forward in their professional lives and are needed in leadership roles quickly. They aren’t kids anymore; they are now as old as 42.”
So what’s the lesson for the future of meetings and events? Make them memorable, make them sustainable (they care about climate change deeply), make them align with a cause (they will boycott businesses whose causes don’t align with theirs), and leave them with indelible memories.
While Holsigner is research driven, I look to the field for research (read the Art Basel story). I think millennials are more complicated than we think. I’ll play devil’s advocate. For every millennial who fits Holsinger’s description, I bet I can find one who loves high-end parties, will travel to places regardless of the location’s politics or beliefs, and is hoping for a quick hit of NFT or TikTok fame.
Every generation is a mixed bag, but what we can agree on is that millennials are experience hungry and our main takeaway should be to cater to them with elements of surprise and delight that remain with them once the event ends.
And it’s not just live events where the experiential and sustainable are musts. Research from UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, suggests around 3/4 of visitors and exhibitors at events care about the event’s environmental impact. ExpoPlatform recently announced that any meeting created on its Smart Event app will be converted into trees planted. Small steps like these go a long way toward cementing repeat visitors.