Exclusive Collection has revealed insights into what the next generation of delegates and event attendees want in a new research paper titled The Big Re-Think.
The research, which is the culmination of quantitative research carried out in autumn 2023 in partnership with micebook, was unveiled during a session at IBTM in Barcelona this week.
The research set out to understand the motivations and expectations of Generation Alpha (those born in 2010 onwards) who will reach the workplace in five years’ time. With attention spans waning and gamification a growing element of daily life, the survey sought to understand how learning and development will evolve, the implications of tech advancements on face-to-face interaction, as well as the considerations event organisers need to make due to a growing generational spread amongst delegates.
The survey’s respondents are recognised as leading corporates and event agencies across banking and finance, professional services, tech, and pharmaceutical industries and draw on an annual buying power for business events of more than £150m. The Big Re-Think is ratified by Chloe Combi, an authority on Generation Alpha and a regular media commentator on the emergent Gen A worker.
The learnings from the paper present some big opportunities for organisers to reframe WHERE and WHY they run and manage events and instead consider WHO they run events for and HOW they manage dwindling soft skills and a growing unfamiliarity with face-to-face interaction.
Key learnings point to:
MIND THE (GENERATION) GAP
There are already very different life experiences, soft skills, and perspectives between a 24-year-old and a 50-year-old delegate. And with Generation Alpha on the horizon, understanding the generational diversity of delegates can enable companies to achieve heightened productivity, creativity, and more cohesive teams.
CHANGING THE CONFERENCE NARRATIVE
With the voice of the delegate more and more prevalent at events; one-way learning is waning in favour of conversation and experience-based practices that shape understanding and deepen knowledge. Learning in the future will be achieved through conversation, collaboration and scenario-based situations which means the setting needs to be correct. The research indicates breaking down physical barriers (cabaret, theatre style, boardroom set ups) to promote community and to align with Gen Z and A’s social nature which responds better to dynamic, inclusive experiences.
UN-SCHEDULE THE SCHEDULE
Just as workplace design has evolved to provide agile lifestyle environments so too must events. Additionally, planning around cortisol highs and circadian rhythms can have a distinct impact on events and maximising the delegate experience. Notably, organisers need to pay heed to the fact that younger employees, 16-21 ‘adolescents’, have a different circadian rhythm to their ‘adult’ peers.
Misinformation, bias, algorithms, deepfake and polarisation of thought are driving the need for events. In person experiences allow for a more nuanced understanding and empathy towards different perspectives, reducing the likelihood of misinterpretation and the potential threat of misinformation currently found on digital platforms.
For Gen-A respondents, immersive learning and gamification are at the fore as non-negotiables followed by learning by app. And as attention spans decrease, quick content consumption and micro-learning will reinform the conference and event agenda.
When Generation Alpha arrives as a delegate what they lack in interaction, emotion, and intuition they will make up for in devouring knowledge, having an opinion, and upholding their personal values and beliefs. Having an opinion won’t be an issue; getting the room talking will however be harder to stimulate.
Chetan Shah, founder and CEO of micebook, commented: “What is very apparent is that regardless of generation the value of face-to-face communication and live events is undeniable. Events motivate; in-person experiences bring brands to life; and face-to-face enables empathy, authenticity, and bridges cultural and social divides between generations whatever their tropes, foibles and thoughts are.”
Stephanie Hall, group director of sales & marketing for Exclusive Collection, added: “At a time when the employee voice and DEI are core elements of the business environment, we’ve looked at what’s working and how event organisers can plan for the upcoming generations as they make their mark on the workplace. In having a Big Re-Think around how we harness the voices and ideals of different generations it isn’t just good for business: it’s good for employee and delegate experience and performance”.