Think of your Gen Y colleagues in your workplace: are they plugged in and tuned out? Or do they just appear that way to your baby-boomer eyes? How will those colleagues act or interact when they attend your next conference? What about those Gen Y physicians coming up the ranks: Will they learn the same way older physicians do?
Of course not, said Mady Keup, president, MK International, a training and research company based in Cannes, France, who spoke about Meetings in the Web 2.0 Future at the Pharmaceutical Meeting Planners Forum. Keup, who defined Gen Y, or the Millennials, as those born between 1977 and 1995, is conducting research about their participation in association conferences. (See sidebar for more info.) Keup defines Web 2.0 as the “participative” and “democratic” Web.
In the workplace, Gen Y employees tend to be independent, said Keup. They put a high emphasis on work-life balance; consider themselves global citizens both socially and environmentally; are tech-savvy, especially in terms of using multimedia; have the ability to juggle many ideas simultaneously; and look for instant gratification.
You will need to factor in an understanding of those characteristics when planning your meetings. “The next generation of delegates will be experienced in multichannel communications, real and virtual,” said Keup.
Keup recommends using online tools to help attendees interact with each other before, during, and after the event. That's where Web 2.0 tools come into play, said Keup. Planners should make full use of wiki technology, user-generated content, blogs and podcasts, RSS feeds, and other social networking sites such as Facebook, Triporama, WAYN, and Sermo.
She suggested the following strategies for attracting to Gen Ys to meetings:
Choose the right type of destination and facility that integrates both the real and virtual (“the rule of cool”). Venues should have Wi-Fi access, for example. Select environmentally friendly sites.
Ask for Millennials' input about content in advance of the program.
Provide networking zones, and structured networking activities.
Offer a casual environment and the freedom to take time off.
Offer events with plenty of options: Gen Y attendees want flexibility and personalized conference programs.
Instruct speakers to give shorter, interactive sessions, which boost energy and creativity. Suggest they incorporate text messaging or other audience-response mechanisms.
To gain a more in-depth understanding of Gen Y's meeting preferences, Mady Keup, president, MK International, Cannes, France; and Rob Davidson, senior lecturer in business travel and tourism research at the University of Westminster in London, are conducting research among different types of associations, including medical ones.
They are examining participants' history of conference attendance; their strategies for keeping up to date with developments in their profession or trade; and their attitudes about face-to-face networking, technology at conferences, destinations and venues, and how conference programs are designed.
Visit MKInternational.biz for more info.
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