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Generation Y delegates 'want to shape the content of events'

Event organisers 'must consider generational differences of delegates' to reach both baby boomers and Gens X and Y

Pictured: A holograph of Paul Redmond being interviewed by Kursha Woodgate of Mexia Communications

Event planners should do more to make the content of conferences and meetings appeal to all generations.

Speaking in London this week, generational expert Paul Redmond, from the University of Liverpool, urged organisers to 'generationally audit' event programmes to make sure they meet the needs of collateral-loving baby boomers, time-pressed Generation X-ers and the tech-savvy members of Generation Y.

However, he reassured the industry that technology needn't spell the end of traditional meetings, as networking and face-to-face contact are highly prized by today's Gen Y-ers, born between 1980 and 1999.

"When you look at what people want from events, it is interesting to see that the different generations want different things," he said. 

"In particular for Generation Y, they don't want to just come along and sit in an event. They want to be engaged in a much more organic way, they want to shape the programme and shape what happens during the day.

"Even though they are digital natives, what they really want is face-to-face contact. What they don't want to do is sit in an audience for a long period of time. 

"Anything that involves networking opportunities is really popular with Generation Y."

Appearing as a holograph on a specially-constructed stage at the Meet The Future event at Central Hall in Westminster, he told the audience of event planners they should consider content from a generational perspective.

"In particular, look at the words you are using," said Redmond. "Try to audit the programme from a generational perspective - the best way of doing that is to get people from different generations to look at it."

Baby boomers, added Redmond, "are the last generation that will read things that come to them in the post", and as a result, they want printed handouts like brochures at an event.

By contrast, Generation X-ers, born between 1963 and 1979, are focussed on convenience. "They love email, they like PDFs, they like information sent to them online but they are looking for it to be as time effective as possible. 

"They are looking for short-term events, the things they can go back to work at the end of," he explained.

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