Millennials are becoming a driving change in the meetings industry. If you want to attract more young professionals, often referred to as Millennials or GenY, then you’ll need to adjust your game plan. In order to engage them at your event or conference, it’s important to recognize what meeting planners can do to understand preferences and engage with this burgeoning group.


This isn’t to say you have to become a Snapchat expert overnight, but a savvy event producer can focus on their consumer trends and demographics. New York Times best-selling author and workplace expert, Dan Schawbel, knows what millennials want and how to give it to them. Here are his suggestions for engaging these professionals and staying current in this new landscape.


Ask Them

Making the meeting experience better for millennials is simple – don’t guess what they want, ask them. Just like you would with any other group of clients. Talk to your influential opinion leaders, who tend to be younger and involved in your meetings. Ask them – what would be of value to you? What would be more of interest to you? What kind of experience do you want to have?


More Networking Time

Millennials want more real networking time. Not the fifteen minute coffee break between sessions. Schawbel says, “Try a thirty minute break. So that they are not just using the restroom, grabbing a cup of coffee and checking their emails. They are actually networking with each other. That’s why they’re there. Foster things that give them what they want, working time.”


White Space

White space is not content on the agenda. It’s giving people room to go outside, grab a drink with a friend and have a chance to digest what they’ve been hearing. The old paradigm for meetings used to be cramming as much content into the day as possible. Schawbel stresses “at some point we can’t take in anymore. Give people a chance to breathe and you’re going to see your engagement and attendance go up.”


Digital Connections

It’s important to recognize that this is the first generation that grew up immersed in social media. Young professionals are tech-savvy and, often, they’d rather do things electronically. Using a mobile app for your conference can encourage them to get more involved. It’s interactive and it’s a way to keep people’s attention. Use the app for live polling during an event or create sub-conversations among attendees. Schawbel suggests that “at larger conferences, it’s also a useful tool for helping attendees connect for lunch or during downtime.”