Despite all the attention directed towards digital marketing, live events remain as a top source of lead generation for B2B marketers. There is not, however, an easy button for event marketers—especially as it relates to their target audience, which is rapidly evolving. If you’re in the B2B space, chances are good that more and more often your buyers are Millennial B2B buyers. Planning events that appeal to the Millennial B2B buyer requires a different playbook and a different event marketing strategy.
The Connected Traveler aka The Millennial Event Attendee
Many stereotypes have been applied to the Millennial cohort, some unfairly. What can’t be ignored, however, is that they tend to have different preferences than previous generations, especially when it comes to travel and communications, vital elements in planning any marketing event. That’s why event marketers should be taking a close interest in studies like one recently completed by Carlson Wagonlit Travel.
The CWT Connected Traveler Study questioned more than 1,900 travelers from 16 different countries to find out more about their views, with particular emphasis on divergences between different age demographics. According to the study, Millennials (defined as age 24 to 34 for the purposes of the research) differ from previous generations in several ways.
Let’s take a look at some of the insights gained and how marketers can apply them when it comes to events that might appeal to the Millennial B2B buyer.
Millennial Travel Preferences
The report indicates that in general, Millennials are social business travellers who enjoy traveling in packs.
- More than half (58 percent) of Millennials travel with others, 43 percent with colleagues, and 15 percent with family or friends.
- By contrast, a large majority (71 percent) of Baby Boomers prefer to travel alone. Less than a quarter report they travel with colleagues.
- Gen X travellers unsurprisingly fell somewhere in the middle, with 58 percent reporting being solo travellers, and three in ten reporting they enjoy completing their journeys with a co-worker.
The study also suggested Millennials are much more security conscious, with almost a third (29 percent) saying they had canceled a trip due to security concerns. Just one in five of Gen X and 12 percent of Boomers said the same, but that is to be expected, as security concerns have only increased in the last 17 years since 2011 and the many terrorist attacks that hae come since that time. Not surprisingly, the security conscious and often also financially prudent Millennials reported they are likely to buy trip insurance (49 percent compared to 36 percent Gen X and 31 percent Boomers).
Takeaway. When it comes to planning events for the B2B Millennial buyer, expect attendees to come and expect them to bring company. Make invitations plus-ones and provide colleague meet-up spaces as well as comfortable lounge spaces to facilitate hanging out and recharging (mentally and device-wise as well, if you’re smart—more on that in a jiff). Lastly, put security front and center and make sure attendees are aware of the steps taken to ensure their safety.
Millennials are the connected generation. Although in all candor, all you need do is talk in any airport in any city, and you’ll see that just about every human on the planet, from grandmas to toddlers, are connected, so Millennials don’t have the market cornered on that front. However, connectivity is important to them and event marketers targeting the B2B Millennial marketer need to take note. There is no such thing as too many charging stations or WiFi that’s too fast and reliable. Make connectivity the foundation upon which your event is built and your B2B Millennial buyers in attendance are sure to thank you. The survey findings in that regard—
- Nearly half (45 percent) are in touch with family and friends at least once a day during their journey. This compares to 38 percent for Gen X and 29 percent boomers.
- More than half connect with clients while on their travels, while four in ten connect with co-workers, both results significantly higher than for previous generations.
- Email is the preferred means of contact with colleagues for all generations, although those who do use the phone were much more likely to be Millennials.
When it comes to the technology they use to connect, there was again something of a generation gap. While Boomers (at 51 percent) were much more likely to use their phones than Millennials (39 percent) to connect with family and friends, the opposite was true for Skype, where Millennials were almost twice as likely to chat via video than their older colleagues. I’m sure FaceTime, WhatsApp, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger are all video chat (and text chat) channels that are equally as popular as Skype among this group. I know that on any given day, I’m using all of them, especially when I travel. Also, when it comes to video, it’s clearly preferred by this group. As an aside, my kids are Gen Z and their phone habits are fascinating. If they can video chat with someone, that’s their clear preference, so expect more of this in the future.
Takeaway. When developing events to appeal to the Millennial B2B buyer, provide the connected, technology-driven environment that they expect and enjoy. And as a frequent speaker and attendee at events, know that Millennials aren’t the only event attendees who want technology to take center stage. Make sure your events facilitate the kind of connectivity your attendees prefer, from great Wi-Fi (secure, please), to plenty of charging stations, to power strips, and if your event is an international one, converters. Also consider integrating connected lounges that give them a place to hang out and recharge—devices this time!
You can take a deeper dive into some interesting ways to use technology to enhance live events by reading Jeff Snyder’s take on the topic: 4 Ways to Use Technology to Create Amazing Brand Events.
Technology continues to drive change in the marketing world at a rapid rate, and it’s not just the digital landscape that’s changing at a rapid clip. Real world aspects of our lives, like travel and connectivity while traveling are also affected, particularly for the digitally immersed Millennial generation.
Event marketers targeting the Millennial B2B buyer need to understand and embrace these changes to ensure their strategies are effective and that they are serving up the experience that Millennial B2B buyers are looking for when they attend an event. The tools are out there, not only to help provide the experience Millennials (and others) are seeking, but also to facilitate the monitoring and measurement of the success of event marketing strategies. You can learn more about the best of these in a related post from my smart friend, Michael Brenner: The 12 Best Event Marketing Tools.
What are your thoughts? Do you host events and are you changing your event management tactics based on?