. Embracing Generation Flux | Northstar Meetings Group

Embracing Generation Flux

Is "Millennial" defined by age, or by a way of thinking?

By 2020 Millennials will comprise 50 percent of the global workforce -- that's a hefty chunk of the population, and certainly the future of the meetings and events industry, so we need to take this demographic seriously. However, when putting together an incentive program, there is a whole new generation called "Generation Flux" that we need to put more focus on. This "generation" is not so much an age demographic, but more of a psychographic one.

So, what does this 'generation' look like, and what are they bringing to the table? First and foremost, there is definitely a new way of thinking -- a questioning of the traditional way of operating and a transition away from hierarchical management. We're seeing this new approach spilling over into how we work with clients and we are taking a new look at how we do business. 

Today's incentive travel participants are not looking for the tried-and-tested program -- they enjoy the unknown and they want to be challenged. They are craving truly authentic experiences, with less of a focus on the luxurious, the opulent, and the elaborate, and more of a spotlight on a local's experience. And, as more and more digital options are coming to the forefront -- virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence -- the art of applying technology to maximize the participant experience has become a major focus in the industry. 

There's also a change in the type of services that are required. This is definitely being driven by Millennial lifestyles, and we're seeing that spill into how they like to do business. We're living in an age of instant gratification, where we are not used to waiting and service has to change to meet these new customer demands. A great example is our social -- if we want to watch a TV show, we can get it on Netflix instantly. We want to buy a new sweater? Next day delivery means it's on our doorstep in the morning. We're no longer used to waiting socially, and that has an effect on our expectations in a business environment.

The most exciting change is the refreshing attitude in our industry -- people are more open to learning, changing, and evolving. There isn't that same sense that we need to know the answer to everything straight away anymore, or that there is only one correct way to do things. People are operating in "beta," being open to change and open to evolving. 

The implications of what Millennials are bringing to the table are positive for everyone -- we're looking at more ways to work harder not smarter, there's less micromanaging, more creativity, more rewards, and more digital opportunities. The most refreshing thing is that this creativity -- the disruption and challenging of the norm that we are experiencing -- is not solely coming from the 'younger' workforce. It's a way of thinking that can span all age groups, and that's truly something to embrace.

Aoife Delaney, CIS, is Director of Marketing & Sales at DMC Network, LLC and a member of the board of directors of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE).