My journey at ENITED is two months old now. And that makes two months that I have ever been in contact with the business events industry. Over this time, I tried (and still am trying) to grasp a somehow clear picture about the clutter of concepts related to this world: associations, live communication, destination management, convention bureau, professional congress organizer…
Before joining the ENITED team I was (and still kind of am) completely new to the ins and outs of corporate, incentive trips, meetings, congresses, as well as of all the suppliers and stakeholders that come into play whenever any of those take place! This is why I had to quickly jump on the train and learn as much as possible, as soon as possible in order to catch up with my colleagues’ work pace.
However, among all the articles, posts and news that I have read until the moment, there is a specific topic that event professionals keep featuring and sharing in their feeds and blogs: NEW TRENDS.
Serving their clients and guests’ needs and wishes, event planners and destinations must always be well acquainted with the latest stories, practices and releases in the market. However, this is nowadays not enough. Both on the supplier and on the client’s side, the millennial generation is taking over and thus shaping the direction in which changes are happening. In consequence, events must not only match these changes, but they also need to provide the most cutting-edge, groundbreaking experience ever. The famous “wow effect”.
One of Anna Sanchis’ latest blog entries already touched upon Changing generations, shifting mindsets (March 2019), and Rosa Reyero specifically dug into another big sensation at the moment: Festivalization (August 2019). Following up on that, I will now present a summary of the overriding trends – or, rather, essentials for us demanding millennials – that, to my observation, are kicking in hard into the business events industry today:
Climate change is happening, and climate change does not care that you do not believe it is happening. What used to be seen as a plus for a company’s modern image and reputation has now turned into a conditio sine qua non to even be considered as an option by millennials. Sustainability urgently needs to become the norm in whatever form it takes – we know awareness about the environment has only started to spread and concrete measures are not easy to implement, but some easy first steps can always be taken: recycled/recyclable items, reduced or zero waste events, etc. Environmentally friendly practices must fully integrate the company’s culture.
People no longer want papers that they will have to carry around only to throw them away as soon as they leave the venue, or to store them at home and finally trash them in any case. We prefer links that we can quickly check with one click, pen-drives with key documents, apps with all information in one place… We all have our phones, laptops or tablets with us wherever we go, and we can thus access digital formats anywhere and anytime. Unless (and even if) a brochure is made of recycled paper, hard copies are becoming less and less popular and practical.
- Gender equality
As with sustainability, an all-embracing gender perspective is not an option anymore. Event organizers not only need to include competent women in the speakers list, but also show awareness of women’s special needs, especially in the area of hotel amenities or, for instance, in case they are pregnant or have small kids that they might be forced to bring to the event. In this scenario, they should be offered alternative schedules, nursing areas, entertainment activities for children, etc.
In the current globalized world, different cultures coexist almost anywhere. Regardless of the size of the city, you can find people from all continents who have somehow brought part of their customs and habits to their new home. We have to respect these habits and adapt event programs and details to those attendees who might not feel comfortable with certain things. Take into consideration religious holidays (Christmas, Ramadan, etc.), dietary restrictions, no-go references according to some traditions, time-zone differences for those who traveled the longest, etc.
- Personal wellbeing
How many times have you felt that you spend more time traveling for work than at home? And how many times have you felt that this is keeping you from following your healthy lifestyle? In the business events industry – as in many other professional fields – this happens rather often, so attendees will always appreciate if they are offered diverse (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, or just providing information about allergens) options in the menu, outdoor or sporty activities, time for oneself before or after the regular program… health, essentially, should be given its due importance.
As digital natives, millennials are nowadays not so well trained on how to socialize face to face as much as through a software. But, at the end of the day, the useful and long-lasting connections are those you make in person, and millennials are well aware of this obstacle among the many they usually encounter to, for example, find a job. Therefore, they look for engaging and personalized events where they can feel treated as an individual with special characteristics, not just a number or one more group of guests which do not differ from one another.
All the above said, what truly matters in any meeting, congress or conference apart from the outer wrapping is the content, the ideas and knowledge shared. For these to really transcend the event itself, organizers should hire experts, the actual influencers on the topic at hand who have something to say and who can say it in innovative ways or from a different perspective. People (and certainly millennials) do not get inspired from classroom-like formats, but rather from energetic and charismatic speakers who can tell a story and who encourage them to make a difference.
If you combine all of these elements and create a unique experience that your guests (millennials and non-millennials) will absolutely enjoy, the event will stay in their minds for long enough so they can “haunt” you for more! Happy Halloween!