New CEIR Report Explores Generational Differences Among Meeting Attendees

In the latest installment of its "Attendee ROI Playbook" series, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research explores generational differences and similarities.

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Although meetings may attract attendees of all ages, many meeting professionals have a bad habit of catering to just one generation. They might cater to baby boomers, for example, because they're most likely to be senior executives; to Gen Xers because they're up-and-coming; or to millennials because they're trendsetters. But the truth is that smart meeting professionals don't favor one generation over another. Instead, they design their meetings with elements that will appeal to all of them.

So suggests the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), which this week published the fifth installment in its "Attendee ROI Playbook" research series.

Titled "Generational Differences and Similarities," the 18-page report contains a generational analysis of attendees across a variety of areas, including: why and how they decide to attend meetings, how many meetings they attend, how they evaluate meeting outcomes and more.

In the course of its research, CEIR found that most attendees -- regardless of age -- are actively involved in the decision to attend, and are apt to influence company purchasing decisions. Meeting organizers should therefore "personalize messaging that resonates with prospects in each generation to maximize attendee marketing success," it concluded.

Although generations have much in common, CEIR also found many key differences. While all attendees track their activities at events, for example, boomers prefer to track activities with badge scans while millennials prefer to do so with photographs. Likewise, all attendees are motivated by learning and purchasing objectives, but the former are more prevalent among millennials while the latter predominate among boomers.

"Segmenting target audiences by age or generation is a worthwhile strategic planning effort," said CEIR CEO Cathy Breden. "This report provides readers with industry benchmarks that organizers and exhibitors can use to compare their offerings and decide where to make adjustments to align with what their target attendees value most. Engaging in these efforts benefits all stakeholders -- organizers, exhibitors and attendees."

CEIR launched the "Attendee ROI Playbook" series this summer with financial support from the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Education Foundation. The first fact sheet in the series was about how attendees evaluate the ROI/value of attending and which metrics drive value. The second was about the range of sources that attendees rely upon to meet their business information and purchasing decision needs. The third was about the positive effects that pre-event planning and tracking activities have on attendees' opinion of trade shows and exhibitions. And the fourth contained a two-year forecast for future events. All five reports are available for purchase from CEIR's website.