By Rob Davidson, speaker, researcher, and events consultant
For almost 10 years, my Greatest Hit, in terms of conference presentations, has been ‘Generation Y – what do they want from conferences?’ Not only have I spoken on this theme at meetings industry events from Harrogate to Hong Kong, I’ve also written countless articles on that topic. Even my PhD was on the subject of the impact of demographic changes on the conference industry. Generation Y, or Millennials if you prefer, are people born between 1977 and 1995, and 10 years ago our industry was just starting to feel the impact of the arrival of this cohort of tech-savvy youngsters who were in many ways so different to the Baby Boomers who were the dominant age-group among meeting planners and delegates.
But now the Gen-Yers are entering their 40s and are an established part of the landscape at most conferences. This came home to me with a bang when I was presenting on, yes, ‘What Does Generation Y Want from Conferences?’ as part of the Knowledge Exchange at Eventit in Glasgow this March.
Most of the audience there were born between 1977 and 1995, so it felt ironic that I had travelled from London to Scotland to tell a room full of Gen-Yers about themselves, basically.
At the end of the presentation, I made an announcement that I would no longer speak about Generation Y. From now on, it’s Generation Z (1996 – 2012) I’ll be focusing on. After all, they will be making their presence felt at conferences soon.
And they are as different to Generation Y as Generation Y are to the Baby Boomers. To give a taste of what they want, a recent article suggested that 62% of Gen-Zers are open to the idea of going from school straight into work and skipping university; and 43% of them want to start their own companies, to make a social impact. Watch this space for more insights into the new kids on the block. They’re on their way.