4 Tips for Planning a Multigenerational Event

By Amita Patel, CHSP, November 25, 2013

The key to keeping boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Yers (or millennials) all happy at the same event is to know the different traits each group possesses. While these traits can vary widely from person to person, there are a few standard considerations you should have that will help you plan a successful, multigenerational event.

1. Understand why someone wants to attend your event. Each generation makes attendance decisions based on different things. Across the board, each generation will consider finances and value, Will their company pay for them to attend? What value will the event offer, and will it be worth the cost? And how will the event expand their knowledge or improve their skills? Gen Yers, however, have different reasons to attend. They need affordable hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and nightlife options, and they want networking opportunities that extend the experience beyond the event. You might need to give each group a few of their preferences in order to please them all.

2. Think about what kind of venue your attendees prefer. Boomers and Gen Xers prefer quality, flexible meeting space, while millennials might prefer a location with destination appeal. For boomers, proximity to airport, ease of getting around, cleanliness, large rooms with comfortable chairs, Wi-Fi, and access to food and beverages is important, and for Gen X, proximity to airport and dining options, renovated facilities, vibrant activities, Wi-Fi and improve technology matters. Gen Yers wasn’t cost-effective, modern facilities, entertainment (off-site and evening activities), new-age design and the latest technologies. Is it possible to find all of this in one destination? Yes. Consider having room blocks at a variety of hotels, and make sure your convention facilities have individuals spaces where people feel comfortable relaxing.

3. Adjust presentations and materials for the group. It’s not just about content; it’s about the delivery. All attendees today are more tech-savvy than they were a decade ago, and they want to be engaged, not addressed. More than 50 percent of all mobile users have smartphones, and if your church or organization skews younger, that number is even higher: 72 percent of Gen Y consumers own a smartphone, according to Forrester Research. Keep your audience engaged during presentations by having them text questions and comments.

4. Have a social media presence. By going where your audience is, you have numerous ways to reach out and engage your audience prior to the event. Facebook has become the social media outlet that spans the generations. More than 50 percent of all Internet users are on Facebook. Add the event to your organization’s Facebook page and invite all your potential attendees to like the page. Then, start reaching out and interacting with them on a regular basis. Consider Facebook ads, which target the audience for your event with precision using specific parameters. For example, you could set an ad to target potential attendees who are single, between the ages of 25 to 35 with an interest in volunteer work and the environment, and within a 100-mile radius of a particular venue.

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