Imago Venues in conjunction with Loughborough University and The Right Solution announced results of a research project for the meetings industry. The project answers questions such as the one in title of this article: Why people attend meetings?
Emma Boynton, imago Venues, Head of Sales and Marketing said, “We decided to ask students, delegates and event organizers about their experiences of meetings and learning to find out if we are doing enough to inspire the leaders of tomorrow. In total, 430 responded, including students (average age 23), delegates (average age 38) and event organizers (for all types of training, meetings and seminars) from a series of focus groups, face-to-face interviews and an online survey.”
Millennial meeting attendees are looking for a more customized learning experience but they, like other generations before them, place great value on face-to-face meetings. While advances in technology have affected how young professionals communicate and conduct their business, they understand the importance of attending in-person events to expand their networks and nurture their professional development.
81% of students and 82% of delegates said one of the major motivations to attend meetings is for personal career development opportunities, yet this wasn’t rated highly as a motivator by organizers.
Delegates and Student groups revealed that their meeting objective is to learn from inspirational experts and gurus first hand; to gain knowledge that will help their future development and build relationships with peers, colleagues and (for students) potential employers.
The delegate cohort saw meetings as an opportunity for creative and innovative thinking, yet their feedback suggests this is often not achieved and that meeting organizers and facilitators could pay more attention to stimulating creative thought.
Just 51% of delegates and 37% of students felt fully encouraged to take part in meetings. Delegates and Students want to feel recognized by their employers and to build confidence in their ability, helping them to progress their career. Students are looking for strategic thinking and guidance and want to learn how to use their strengths to their own advantage.
The underlying message from the results paints a telling picture. Millennials want to learn something valuable and develop relationships that will benefit them. A meeting has to be linked to what they want to achieve, not the organization.
Delegates are looking for content that offers inspiration, passion and leadership before task-related content. They clearly place less value in prescriptive information sharing about the company’s vision when compared to organizers.
People want shorter sessions that do not try and achieve too much but are effective and relevant. Delegates often prefer to interact more with their fellow delegates than with the speaker, so it is important that organizers and venues create enabling environments for this peer to peer interaction. Networking is considered a vital way to make contacts for their career development.