Everybody is freaking out. The buzzword of the moment is scaring marketing and event professionals around the world. Who are Millennials? Should we be scared?
Millennials are coming and they are going to take over the world. If you are almost a Millennial (like I am) or even if you are a Generation X, C, Z , Baby Boomer etc., you may remember one of the classics of the '80s - The Visitors.
Who are Millennials? They are the Visitors. They tear their skin apart and eat MICE. I've read some reports that they lay eggs in swimming pools where Baby Boomers swim and feel young again.
Why are you joking Julius? You may ask yourself. Because I am upset. Really upset.
Millennials, Another Word for Human Beings
The amount of c&*p I've read over the last few months on this topic has little precedent. The amount of sessions on the topic of Millennials at events is beyond any tolerance. I was recently at an industry event about a completely unrelated subject and when the panel started accepting questions from the floor, and a scared planner asked: 'Can you give us some tactics to cater for Millennials?'. Give me a break.
In a similar fashion to back in 2009 when the talk of the day was event apps and everybody was getting one, without even thinking about what that meant, Millennials is the new buzzword that fills up our mouth when we have nothing to say.
Yes, because this is the problem. Let's come up with something to talk about, so we can fill the void of not understanding what planning events is about.
A Great Study about Millennials
I am not going to name and shame as that has never been our style but W-T-F! You know who you are guys, pushing a great study out about Millennials that concludes that Millennials are really no different from any other type of attendees.
You never ask an editor their age, but I am there. Circling around Millennials. I feel insulted every time I read something about the topic. This SUPERFICIAL age categorisation is unbelievably wrong on so many levels and ignores the basics of any literature on education, events, psychology, etc.
I am not going to compare it to discrimination, but thinking - 'how should I plan an event for millennials?' is unbelievably flawed.
It's Not Millennials, It's Everybody
Millennials want to feel involved, they want to use technology, they like sustainability, they value their fitness. My friend, I have some news for you, it's not Millennials, it's everybody.
As human beings we have evolved. My friend's mum is 70 and she spends 4 hours a day sharing pictures on Facebook. Deal with it. It's not Millennials, it's everybody.
The use of tech and the constant exchange on social networks is making us smarter and giving us access to information like never before. If a lousy planner wants to get away with a crappy event like it's 1990, I am sorry but it's not going to happen. It's not Millennials, it's everybody.
If you plan for the past, you will be crushed by the present.
What's the Present like?
The present looks awesome. Attendees don't accept frontal sessions like in the past. They use technology to connect with events whether they are present or 10,000 miles away. Unhealthy food is seen for what it is, unhealthy. Unsustainable practices are shamelessly shared on social networks.
This is no news. If you read this blog, you know this revolution started over 10 years ago. The only news is that it's not a Millennial thing. The vast majority of attendees don't accept events as they used to be planned 20 years ago.
We have attended so many conferences. We learned what is good and what is bad. We have read so many updates from our friends on social network from events, that we can immediately say if an event is awful or awesome.
It's not a Millennial thing. We all feel the same.
What is scaring the creeps out of some is the fact that digital natives are now getting to managerial positions and they control budgets. As a result shabby practices are being exposed more than in the past.
What Should You Do?
Do you plan for attendees? Do you have participant value at the core of your event proposition? Then you have nothing to fear. Whenever you read the word Millennial you can ignore the article, video or report of the day.
If you have attendees in mind, you will never face any of the so called problems Millennials bring along. Mostly because you will know what your attendees want. You will have a clear idea of what works with them, you have a ROI mindset that puts satisfaction at the core of the event planning process.
If, on the other hand, you 'just plan events', you will be the mouse that Visitors/Millennials (and the rest of your attendees) will eat for breakfast. You can blame it on Millennials, the economic crisis, technology, climate change, there is plenty of excuses to justify poor planning.
What #Proudeventprofs Do
Our profession is more than just executing a list of tasks to make an event happen. There is strategy, budgeting, crowd management, social media and technology coordination, catering and a number of other skills involved.
#Proudeventprofs have battled for years to be recognized for what they are worth. They spend hours and hours trying to figure out what their attendees want, how they will react, how to make them happy. Whether it is Millenials, Generation X, Y, Z, C D, B, the common goal of satisfying the very needs and wants of those involved in your event is at the core of successful events.
They don't believe in buzzwords and take every choice seriously.
Do you think that Millennials will change events forever? Be my guest.
The thing is that events have already changed. You can embrace such change or resist it. You can call it Millennials today, Centennials tomorrow, but the truth is that the way the vast majority of attendees experience events has shifted, regardless of their gender, age, race, religion or political views.
Of course you will have differences and each event community will offer diverse challenges and changes. Let's not confuse diversity with epochal shifts. There is no generalisation that holds.
A good event is a good event, a bad event is a bad event. Both Millennials and Baby Boomers will immediately recognise it. So keep focusing on the things that matter and plan events that matter. Leave talk of Millennials to those who have time to waste.