Although there are many contributing factors in the creation of a successful event, perhaps the most telling sign that your event has been effective is if it captivated your audience. Having a powerful impact on your audience can sometimes be difficult because event participants change and it is often challenging to connect with each individual on a personal level. Millennials are a growing portion of event attendees that pose event planners with the challenge of modifying the structure of events in order to enthrall them. When a younger generation is involved many assume that technology and innovation need to take the place of comfort and human interaction but when it comes to events involving millennials, do they have to be modern?
In recent years many event professionals have chosen to forego having traditional seated dinners, instead utilizing passed foods and reception style seating in hopes of boosting energy and guest excitement at the event. This trend can be linked to the rising attendance of millennials at events combined with the event team’s desire to please this booming audience with technology, sleek futuristic décor, and sustainable catering options—modern concepts. However, just because a younger generation will be present does not mean event planners must throw out all past event structures and designs in order to please them. To captivate millennials, it is not necessary to change an entire format and isolate older generations but rather it is important to add modern elements to an event that will connect with younger generations.
Fashion shows are large scale events that include audiences of both fashion critics and consumers alike who look to the event to see what is forthcoming in the industry. The format of fashion shows has been a long standing tradition that few have dared to disrupt. However, for her Fall 2016 Ready-to-Wear line, established designer Diane Von Furstenberg succeeded in modifying her biannual fashion show event in order to appeal to millennials. Von Furstenberg called upon top models relevant to younger generations and asked them to join her backstage for additional meetings with press and to simply enjoy themselves in her newest designs. This additional backstage event allowed the press to get photographs of her newest work in a more casual setting than the traditional catwalk that followed. More importantly, these photos resonated with young followers, traveling quickly across many social media platforms. Von Furstenberg did not choose to change the format of her traditional runway show but instead added an additional component that acknowledged an understanding of her audience and ensured that her brand was reaching millennials.
Corporate events often host all members of a professional environment, which typically includes employees from a range of different generations. Many of these corporate events follow a similar pattern each year in order to fulfill requirements with sponsors and honorees. While following a standard format may be beneficial in order to ensure all event specifications are met, it is also important for companies to strive to engage every member of their audience with elements that appeal to them.
Svedka and Groupon have incorporated lawn games at their events, such as Jenga and Twister, providing millennials with an element of interaction that appeals to them. Games and other activations will captivate the attention of millennials and can easily be incorporated into any event format. In this example, Svedka and Groupon did not change their events entirely to cater exclusively to one generation, but rather chose to incorporate aspects that further enhanced the creative vision for an event and immersed millennials in the process.
Millennials are not exclusive to modern events in the same way that pre-millennial generations are not exclusive to traditional events. Millennials will respond to an event with modern activations just as they would to an event that is entirely forward-thinking. Including modern elements will engage millennials, therefore it is not necessary to change an entire event format in order to appeal to one segment of your audience. The best way to ignite and captivate your audience is to be inclusive and inviting to all event participants, and find creative ways to unite their different styles of engagement.
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