Prepare for millennials and more

IN LESS than two years time millennials will make up more than half of the global workforce and account for the largest segment of business travellers. There is no better time for industry organisations, particularly convention centre managements, to explore the potential of this new market.

This group tends to place much value on experience. So to remain relevant and competitive, venues and event organisers need to recognise that they can no longer function on a “one-size-fit-all” basis when it comes to event design and space planning. Instead, a deep understanding of the burgeoning group of millennial business travellers, who eventually will form the next generation of decision makers, is critical.

Events powered by data and technology and able to provide differentiated and authentic experiences will appeal to the young business travellers as they wish to stay connected throughout the customer journey. The instant gratification mindset of millennials also means that every touch point, both online and offline, greatly matters – from technological integration to the onsite experience, food as well as venue setup.

Millennials want to be heard, hope to make a difference and crave affiliation with communities that they can identify with. Therefore, it is critical for event organisers and venue managers to keep young business travellers actively engaged in inviting spaces, so that they can develop a strong sense of belonging with other likeminded individuals. They want concise, engaging and productive meetings that are out of the norm and less formal.

As millennials are deeply influenced by technology, only centres that are highly wired and able to provide stronger and more reliable and seamless wifi coverage will be able to address the growing needs of these tech-savvy business visitors, and make them feel at “home”.

Globally, event organisers are also increasingly making use of mobile apps to engage their target audience and create customised value propositions. What distinguishes a good venue from a truly world-class one will be how well it allows events partners to harness the potential of technology. As technology continues to evolve and improve, it is important for centre management teams to constantly review their equipment and remain flexible towards change.

Singapore FinTech Festival, which is held yearly at the Singapore Expo, for example, relied heavily on its mobile app to communicate with its attendees. To appeal to the millennial audience the app was gamified and loaded with eye-catching images. This required strong support from the venue management which provided scalable wifi to support the data requirements of the app.

The younger group of business visitors values personal connections and desires to participate and immerse themselves in communities of likeminded individuals. Consequently, they are increasingly looking out for immersive learning and unique experiences. Gone are the days when event organisers could involve their target audience in a one-to-many kind of dialogue. It is therefore vital for venues to transform and begin to work more closely with event organisers to create and deliver differentiated experiences that leave an impression on event attendees.

Another recent tech-related event, Echelon Asia Summit, made use of bean bags instead of chairs to create an informal and conducive corner for ideation and community building. Instead of the usual catering, event organisers, through the assistance of the venue provider, brought in food trucks that served novel dishes to cater to the largely millennial crowd. Everything, including the meetings, exhibition, conference and dining were all meshed into one large playground so that visitors could continuously engage.

While the orientation of most events is mostly decided by organisers, as venue providers, it is important that we keep abreast of the needs of the industry.

Innovative event designs that are user-centric can only be made possible through active collaboration between organisers and venues. Venues ought to remain flexible and evolve their
suite of services to suit the evolving needs of customers now and in the future.

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