How Generations X & Y Are Changing Meetings & Events

Posted by Jenise Fryatt on Fri, May 31, 2013 @ 11:56 AM

Woman Jumping in Bounce HouseMore transparency, more engagement and more education: these are some of the features Generations X and Y are looking for in exhibitions and events, according to new research by Amsterdam RAI.

Working with research companies TrendsActive and Ruigrok/NetPanel, Amsterdam RAI undertook the research in an effort to explore the needs of  attendees who belong to Generations X (age 35-50) and Y (age 20-35).

Yvonne Nassar, head of marketing and innovation at Amsterdam RAI, recently answered a few questions about the report. 

Why is it so important for event professionals to understand Gens X & Y?

To make events future-proof, we need to deal with new expectations from current and future target groups. Generation X (35-50 years old) and Y (20-35 years old) are either current event visitors and/or on our wish list for future events.

Understanding generations is as easy as opening up to the needs of those generations and embracing their perspective. It’s not about translating their life into yours. It’s about getting an insight in their history and why their needs are the way they are. If you can translate those insights successfully to your event, you can make your event more relevant to those generations. In some cases, it’s the difference between growth or decline in visitor amounts.

How was the research conducted?

In partnership with TrendsActive and Ruigrok | NetPanel, Amsterdam RAI has mapped out the changing wishes and demands of generations X and Y. The result is a document full of interesting insights about X & Y, along with various concepts for innovating exhibitions and events and making them future-proof.

The generation insights are based on qualitative research and socio-cultural trend analyses. The qualitative research was performed among visitors to business-to-business and public events. The analyses and concepts were further elaborated from the viewpoint of exhibitions, conferences and other events.

What was the most surprising thing you learned about Gens X & Y?

The cynicism of Generation X going back to their formative years. The fact that Xers are skeptical about media and marketing messages is common knowledge, but that cynicism is one of the main characteristics of that generation surprised me.

That having knowledge and skills is considered cool by Generation Y is somewhat remarkable as well. As this generation is often viewed as a bit laid-back and by some even as lazy-in-the-workplace, it’s great to find the importance of knowledge, and therefore content, as a characteristic of the generation.

How can event professionals use these insights to improve their events & meetings?

First of all, this is a matter of knowing your current visitors and understanding your future ones. The insights can be used to improve events and meetings to cater more to the needs of generation X and/or Y. In essence, it’s about truly listening to customers and translating that to your event. In the report we have illustrated various insights via a series of event concepts to spark the creative strategic thinking of event professionals.

How do you think meetings & events will change in the future to accommodate Gens X & Y

Generation Y expects a real ‘experience’ when they visit an event. In addition to acquiring information, they want to be actively involved before, during and after the event. Participation, co-creation and being able to improve and develop themselves are vital to Generation Y and they also want to be certain that a visit will be worth their while.

Generation X also has specific demands with regard to event visits. They want to know what to expect in advance of their visit, and place great store in trust. They require transparent, honest information that is as personal as possible. Gen-Xers want to know exactly what they are paying for and what they will receive in return.

In essence, both generations require new models of interaction. Meeting and events are more than just a stand alone, one-off activity: they have an important role in communities and year-round dialogues. We can expect a change in event formats, a continuing growing role of technology and a focus on participation.

How can people get a copy of the report?

The trend report can be downloaded for free via this link in exchange for your email and some data.

About Amsterdam RAI @AmsterdamRAI

Connecting context, content and communities to create added value - that’s what Amsterdam RAI believes in. With 120 years of experience, Amsterdam RAI is the largest convention centre in The Netherlands. Located 8 minutes by train from the international airport Schiphol, the Amsterdam city centre is just a walk away. Amsterdam RAI offers a total of 106,500 m2 (114,636 sq.ft.) of event space.

About Yvonne Nassar @yvonnenassar
Head of marketing & innovation at Amsterdam RAI. Loves life. Keen on sharing ideas, travelling and good food. Background in hotels and events. Red thread: setting up international marketing teams. Lived in the U.K. and Paris, bikes to work in Amsterdam now.

(Photo by Kevin Tostado)


Tags: event innovation, conferences, exhibitors, event planners, meeting planners, event industry