IAEE: GenYers Have a Place at Events

If the conventional wisdom is that GenYers don’t have a place in today’s workforce or at today’s face-to-face events, conventional wisdom just might be wrong.

That’s what Karyn Gordon, founder of dk Leadership thinks. And a panel of GenY industry professionals in an Executives Breakfast session at IAEE’s Expo! Expo! in Houston agreed with her.

During the session titled “How Do We Attract and Engage the Next Generation?” Gordon agreed with at least one bit of that fabled conventional wisdom: Yes, young adults under the age of 33 are different from many of those who both work in the tradeshow industry and attend its events. And, yes, they do want something different from their jobs and events, but it’s not that complicated.

“They want their company to be challenging,” Gordon said, “but they also want it to be like their family.”

Taking advantage of and making GenYers comfortable, she said, requires three principle strategies.

• You need to communicate with them, both respectfully and often.

“Feedback is important,” said Jennifer Heinold, vice president of events for Access Intelligence, who was one of five participants in a panel discussion that followed Gordon’s presentation. “It was good to hear her say that’s one thing you need.”

• You need to challenge them, not only in terms of the assignments you give them, but with continual training and mentoring.

“The idea that when you get done with a project and you’re bored, I can identify with that,” said Andrew McErlean, a digital production designer with Moroch

• You have to cultivate GenYers and work to develop a family culture.

“I definitely identify with the family aspect,” said Brooke Pierson, education coordinator for the International Association of Exhibitions & Events. “Everybody where I work cares about each other. Everybody’s interested in each other’s lives.”

Another bit of conventional wisdom that was questioned during the session: That devices take the place of human interaction for GenYers and threaten the survival of face-to-face events.

The panelists said that’s not the case.

“Everybody’s talking before the event,” Pierson said. “It’s the ramp-up piece for a face-to-face meeting. That’s how you start a relationship.”

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Posted by Michael Hart

Michael Hart is the executive editor of Expo. Reach him at mhart@accessintel.com.... View all articles by Michael Hart →