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Meeting planners told to ditch the 'millennial' buzzword

Events lecturer Jackie Mulligan tells MPI Insights that event organisers should instead use multi-format methods

Pictured: Jon Coventry, Jackie Mulligan, Sofia Godinho, James Morgan, Ines Lebaek and Bonny Shapira spoke at last night's MPI Insights forum at the May Fair Hotel.

'Millennial' and all other generational buzzwords are "dangerous" and should be scrapped by meeting organisers because they unfairly stereotype delegates, a meetings academic has said.

Leeds Beckett University professor Jackie Mulligan argues that event organisers should instead focus on multi-format approaches when designing a conferences.

She said: "There's a danger with the millennial stereotype. What we have to see is multi-generational. There are more ages in a room at once these days than there has been. So the future is multi-format and multi-thinking.

"Tonight we could have given everyone a chance to have one-on-ones with the speakers instead of a panel or presentation, because each one of us would have different meeting preferences. It's not based on a generational thing. So I think the millennial (branding) is really dangerous."

Mulligan made the comments at this week's MPI Insights forum, in a panel alongside Jon Coventry (Banks Sadler), James Morgan (Event Tech Lab), Sofia Godinho (Societe Generale) and Ines Lebaek (Visit Denmark) held at the May Fair Hotel.

The audience also heard from Cisco Live director Bonny Shapira, who spoke about the evolution of the IT conference in a case study.

Mulligan also warned against cramming too much content into conferences and exhibitions, saying delegates needed time to reflect on what they have learnt.

"There's a (risk) here because as we get more cost sensitive and cut down on the duration of an event, are we cutting down on people's experience? It's not about the duration … it's also about the time to focus," she said.

"The biggest value when giving them is space out of the (programme) to reflect on what's important and what they've learnt."

Event Tech Lab founder James Morgan added that return on investment (ROI) was best measured at various times during an event, not just afterwards. "It's a particular moment in time that you will get the best feedback. You go through different emotions during an event so imagine if you can measure that throughout, instead of heaping everything on at the end?" he said.

Banks Sadler's head of production Jon Coventry said some clients had begun applying a 'Daily Mail Red Face Test' and it was up to organisers to gently encourage creativity, and make sure value is still high on meetings.

He said: "My clients will say 'I want something creative and different' yet when you come up with something creative and different there's a reticence of 'oh that's too much'. And the phrase that keeps coming up with us is 'what's the Daily Mail Red Face Test'? It's very, very important to ensure you push your client in a creative way but also in a way they're comfortable with."

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