Millennials – four ways to engage this influential group

Millennials, who make up one third of the U.S. population, have a surprise for the rest of us. Despite their stereotype as “kids glued to their phones,” 75 percent of these 18- to 34-year-olds say they value experiences over things, according to Eventbrite. That makes millennials a perfect prospect for in-person events.

What specifically do they want? Opportunities to learn and grow and, most importantly, interact. Here are four ways your event can deliver exactly what millennials crave.

Listen First

The best way to shape a millennial-friendly event? Involve them in the planning process. “Please, ask our opinions when planning for us because who better knows the audience than the audience itself,” writes Event Specialist Alexandra Mottershead in a blog.

She suggests that planners resist defining her generation with negative stereotypes and instead actively seek their ideas. “We want to learn, we want to grow, we want to meet new people, and we want to be involved in unforgettable experiences,” she states. Ask them what works best for them.

Create the Experience

Millennials don’t want to attend their fathers’ event. According to the “Meeting Room of the Future” report issued by the world’s largest network of business events strategists, Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), venues should consider themselves curators of exceptional experiences. The report suggests taking a nonlinear approach to planning because “millennials aren’t content to have the same information broadcast to them as to everyone else.”

Instead, consider blending elements of a meeting, such as sessions, workshops, breaks and networking opportunities, into one cohesive experience and space. This way, your millennial attendees can go after the information they’re looking for rather than sit in a lecture hall and passively wait (which they won’t do) for the answers they seek.

The PCMA report also acknowledges increased use of technology at conferences. In particular, the report highlights the growing popularity of virtual reality, a completely immersive experience, and augmented reality, which adds digital elements to a live view.

For example, let’s say you’re hosting a travel conference. Virtual reality allows your participants to experience the sights and sounds of a destination without stepping foot anywhere. Using augmented reality, participants could see themselves in a tropical paradise and share that image on their social media.

Give Them Something to Talk About

Ideally, that would be something worth sharing on Instagram and other social platforms. Think gorgeous backdrops. Signature cocktails. Or humorous collaboration exercises, like the one where two characters tell an improvised story, always beginning their line with the words, “Yes, and….”

Other visually compelling ideas: breaks that include tables of beautiful pastries, networking events that incorporate virtual or augmented reality and walks to notable places near the venue.

Also include an event hashtag and social media walls, which is a feed of social posts about your event and displayed on digital signage.

Keep All of it Simple

Nothing about your event can be slow or inconvenient or you’ll instantly lose your millennial audience. In addition to offering plenty of charging stations and Wi-Fi, make it easy for your attendees to get event tickets, find and install an event app, and share presentations, notes and videos.

Millennials may be young but they know what they want. And now you know how to deliver.

To learn about planning a meeting at Monona Terrace, contact Laura MacIsaac , Director of Sales, at or 608-261-4016.