The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same – Even for Millennials

By Warwick Davies, Principal, The Event Mechanic!

Who knew? While many assume that the younger generation has gone totally digital and social media focused, some new research suggests that you still need to include some traditional elements if you want your event to be successful. It seems that Millennials actually prefer some of the 20th century communications tools, despite our efforts to incorporate every newfangled technology into our conferences and trade shows.

This was part of the findings in the 2014 Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study, a recently-released survey of 300 young professionals conducted by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. Commissioned by the Society of Independent Show Organizers, the survey included attendees between the ages of 23 and 40 years old who had attended a B2B exhibition during the past two years.

Most importantly, the survey affirmed that exhibitions remain an important part of the marketing mix. In the B2B world, trade shows and conferences are still a good place to learn about new products or make a purchase decision. As to deciding whether to attend a particular event, email marketing remains an important component, arguably the most important component. Though there’s been a big push for social media, emails from event organizers represent the most trusted (37 percent of the survey population) and most used (58 percent) information sources; while just 13 percent used social media from show organizers as their primary source of information. So while it makes sense to pay attention to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other online venues, don’t lose sight of the role that traditional email can have on your event’s attendance numbers.

Once they’re on site, even though attendees may spend a lot of time on their smartphones, don’t presume that they’ll want to plan their event schedule that way. Printed show guides and conference agendas remain the preferred choice for 59 percent of the survey respondents. Only 26 percent indicated that they relied on a mobile app provided by the event host.

Maybe this means that it’s time to dust off our old marketing books about how to attract and serve an audience. Yes, the world is changing, but perhaps it’s also true that the more things change (in terms of social media and digital marketing tactics), the more some things will remain the same – even for Millennials.

CLICK HERE to download the full 2014 Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study.

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