It seems every generation looks at the one that proceeds it with aghast. Who hasn’t heard the age-old phrase, “it wasn’t like that in my day”? Even the ancient Greeks are reported to have said, “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” And then enter the millennials. As their numbers have swelled, stories of outright amazement at the actions, habits and beliefs of this generation born in the closing years of 20th century but reaching adulthood in the 21st, seem to be never ending. You would be forgiven for believing they are from another planet.
Millennials work where they play
One millennials trend that is beginning to have an impact across the world of events, venues, and hospitality is the way millennials use space. The days when people preferred to work in the peace and quiet of an office or hotel room and went to the bar when they were finished working are coming to an end. Millennials see no reason to work in an office or stuffy hotel room, they want to be around friends and colleagues, either in online communities or in the same room, or both.
Internet everywhere is as natural to millennials as wearing a digital watch was to their parents. It frees them from the confines of office space, they can meet, work, access online media and consume entertainment in places they enjoy being; places where they can socialise – or just absorb the atmosphere while others do.
Big brands adapting to Millennial-living
Indeed, Marriott International developed its budget-lifestyle brand Moxy, to accommodate this market. The brand was launched in Milan in 2014 and now has 20 hotels worldwide, with 90 more in development.
Moxy properties include a lively lobby area with bar, 24/7 self-service, including ‘grab and go’ food service and multiple power points for personal devices.
Discussing Moxy, John Licence, vice-president of premium and select brands at Marriott International, Europe, said the brand is designed to meet the needs of the next generation of travellers.
“Moxy Hotels allow our guests to not take themselves too seriously, providing them with personalised experiences in a well-designed space that is surprisingly affordable, with the latest technology and plenty of social spaces that blend work and play,” he explained.
CitizenM – a hotel brand designed for Millennials
Hotel brand, CitizenM, founded in 2008, is blatant in its attempt to target the millennial segment of the travel market – it calls them ‘mobile travellers’. This hotel brand offers 1-minute check-ins, free Wi-Fi everywhere, 24/7 food and drinks and ‘affordable luxury’ in city centre locations. Describing its ‘disruptive’ offering, the CitizenM website says, “A hybrid hotel that isn’t just a place to sleep, but somewhere to work, relax, and play. To meet like-minded people and get inspired. Somewhere to feel at home the moment you walk through the door. Somewhere with free Wi-Fi, comfortable furniture, and a great bed to crash in at the end of a long day.”
Adapting exhibitions and events for the ‘Mobile Citizen’
As CitizenM does so well, appealing to millennials is all about saying you can have it your way at reasonable prices. It’s creating home from home environments, with access to things that help them live they way they want to, without charging the earth. Exhibitions, trade shows and other events can learn from this. Use these areas to accommodate millennials and prepare them for social interaction and informal meetings, with personalised touches such as Wi-Fi that connects automatically to a faster, more reliable network. This ‘auto recognition’ means guests only sign in once to access an event’s Wi-Fi, after that their devices connect automatically on all future visits to the comfy space they are frequenting.
Use apps to guide them to these neutral comfy spaces at your event. And help them keep their spot, without having to get up from their cosy sofa and unplug from their power point, or look up from WeChat, SnapChat or Instagram, by creating in-app services that enable them to order coffee, snacks and meals from where they are.
Millennials need technology like others need air
Never expect millennials to go without their smartphone. A report from Lab42, a research firm that surveyed millennials about new technology and social media usage, found that nearly half of millennials said they could not go a few days without a smartphone — and 30 percent narrowed that down to a few hours or just one day. Nearly 20 percent expressed that the most upsetting aspect of losing their smartphone would be feeling disconnected.
Millennials rely on technology to allow them to live mobile lives that seamlessly include online experiences and interaction. They turn to technology whenever they need to do anything – working, learning, shopping, socialising, booking a holiday, even enjoying entertainment, is either based around, or integrated with, technology. So, when a millennial attends an event, they first download apps associated with it, check for updates and information online and sign up to notifications. They’re using apps to check which people they know are also there and arranging catch-ups. They’re creating media; photos, videos and comments illustrating their experience, and these are posted instantly to multiple social media feeds throughout their time at the event and after.
No one would deny that millennials are leading the way into the digital future. To attract the millennial market, create a meeting offering that includes personalised experiences, authenticity, opportunities to learn new skills, home comforts and, most importantly, fast network connections for technology that allows them to live their online lives the way they want to. When it comes to creating space for millennials, include free Wi-Fi plenty of accessible power sockets, comfy seating, around-the-clock refreshments in a relaxing atmosphere and you’ll be well on your way to creating a millennial-ready venue.