In this guest blog, AIPC President Aloysius Arlando looks into the future and highlights the importance of meeting millennial business travellers expectations.
By 2020, millennials will make up more than half of the global workforce and account for the largest segment of business travellers.
Millennials are a unique group, with expectations and experience-seeking that is very different from the Gen-Xers and baby boomers we have been working with.
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 which are 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 set-up.
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 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 like-minded individuals. They often have short attention spans, hence the desire for concise and engaging meetings which are out of the norm and less formal.
As millennials are extremely reliant on their smartphones and laptops, moving ahead, only centres which are highly wired and able to provide strong, reliable and seamless Wi-Fi coverage will be able to 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. It is important for centre management teams to constantly review their equipment and remain flexible towards necessary changes.
Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF), which is held yearly at the Singapore EXPO, for example, relied heavily on its mobile app to communicate with its attendees. The app was gamified and loaded with eye-catching images. This required strong support from the venue management which provided scalable Wi-Fi 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 like-minded individuals.
Gone are the days where event organisers can involve their target audience in a one-to-many kind of dialogue.
SFF also sought to appeal to the millennials’ need for differentiated and authentic experiences by serving instagrammable dishes. Venue management also worked closely with the organiser to enhance creativity in event space design through multiple-themed zones.
The past Echelon Asia Summit made use of bean bags instead of chairs to create an informal and conducive corner for ideation and community building. Food trucks served novel dishes to cater to the largely millennial crowd. Everything, including the meetings, exhibition, conference and dining are all meshed together into one large playground so that visitors stay continuously engaged.
While the orientation of most events is mostly decided by organisers, it is important that vkjenue managers 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.
Box with AIPC logo from Issue 97, p25
Aloysius Arlando is also CEO of SingEx Holdings and incoming President of the Singapore Association for Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS).
AIPC represents a global network of over 185 leading centres in 60 countries, visit: www.aipc.org