It seems like an absurd thing to say – plan your event around what its attendees will enjoy. Who doesn’t do this already, right?
The simple fact of the matter is the average attendee is changing from an older, C-suite executive to a younger millennial. With that shift in age comes a major adjustment in ideology.
Market as it is now
There are certain cursory elements that can be adapted when planning your event if you understand the demographics of attendees. What type of food is offered, how much access to the internet and even whether a ticket is digital or hard copy all matters to certain people.
Event Manager Blog pointed out the attendee market currently belongs to “generation C,” as the website has dubbed it. This isn’t necessarily defined so much by an age gap as it is by what they have come to expect:
The first two characteristics, connection and communication, really drive the last two traits, and it’s easy to see why they’re so prominent. The Pew Research Center found that 68 percent of American adults have a smartphone. With Pew’s research now showing that millennials compose the largest portion of the workforce, it’s simple to surmise that number will rise as time moves forward.
It becomes easy to paint a picture of exactly what methods can engage attendees the most once you have an idea of what they really like.
Before the event
There are two areas you need to prepare for with your target audience in mind before the trade show kicks off – marketing and organizing. Weigh the conventional options you’ve been using – word of mouth, newsletters and flyers – with what “generation C,” is used to.
Email is out and social media is in. Fire up your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and use those mediums to reach the attendees you want. Those who have been in the industry a while, aka generation X and baby boomers, will likely already know about your event if it’s an annual one. Focus on those who may not have been in their professional position the year before, and try getting on their level to target them.
When it comes to organizing, encourage the use of technology in the form of mobile apps. Communication and community are key, as Event Manager Blog pointed out, and mobile apps can cover both. They can direct attendees to other users with the same professional interests, or connect vendors with buyers. Event planners must move to the role of matchmaker, essentially, and the best way to cover your bases it to prepare before the event goes live.
During and after the trade show
This is the part where all four C’s really come into play. If your pre-event planning and use of technology paid off, you can then parlay that into driving personal connections. According to a study by Meetings Mean Business, despite the common train of thought, millennials find face-to-face networking to be more valuable than any other form.
“Mobile apps can help facilitate networking.”
By getting everyone onto your event app before the event, you can drive real interpersonal connections the moment attendees hit the floor. Match up professional interests with industry professions to really give attendees the value they’re looking for when networking at these events.
Event Manager Blog also suggests ensuring there’s consistent, unfettered and free internet access for attendees to enjoy, as well as designated charging stations. Communication and connection can’t really be achieved well without having power and Wi-Fi on attendees’ smartphones.
Ensuring ultimate connectivity, getting the word out through mediums your attendees use and helping them forge real face-to-face connections will be key for a successful trade show – all you have to do is facilitate it.