New study reveals generational unity among meeting planners

A recent study by the International Association of Conference Centres (IACC) and Development Counsellors International (DCI) reveals generational unity among meeting planners on the continuing importance of accessibility and price when choosing a venue.

The study, entitled ’Exploring the Generational Preferences of European Meeting Planners’ was conducted in partnership with IMEX Group and was revealed at IMEX Frankfurt. It explored the preferences of different generations of meeting planners and how these preferences shape how meeting and conference space is selected. It also highlighted new demands born out of shifting demographics in the European meetings marketplace.

The study defined the generations as: Mature (age 66 and older), Baby Boomer (age 47-65), Generation X (age 33-46) and Millennials (age 18-32).

IACC CEO, Mark Cooper said results had shown meeting room design innovations were expected in particular by Gen X and Millennial delegates. He noted that the survey revealed that open space, moveable furniture and informal set up are meeting room characteristics that these planners indicate as ’most important’.

The study surveyed 101 European meeting planners of various generations. It evaluated the effectiveness of sales/marketing tactics, the importance of key criteria in meeting location selection and why a destination/venue is often not selected as a meeting location.

DCI Executive Vice-President/Partner, Karyl Leigh Barnes, commented on the findings: "As baby boomers begin to retire and Millennials enter the workforce, it’s important for convention bureaus and conference facilities to recognise that the way they have traditionally sold to a meeting planner is going to change because what the meeting planner considers important is fluctuating."

Key findings of the study included:

  • Overall, the generations are united in their prioritisation of accessibility/location, appropriate meeting space and value as highly important selection criteria
  • Digital materials are king for selling to Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials, but Matures still prefer in-person selling during tradeshow appointments
  • Baby Boomers and Matures ranked technology/connectivity via Wi-Fi as the most important factor in selecting a venue. Technology was ranked as more important to these two generations than it was to Millennials who look at cost as their top consideration for selecting a meeting space.
  • 55 per cent of respondents consider the age of conference attendees when selecting a venue. Off-site activity options and the ’cool factor’ of the venue and location are important factors for programmes with Generation X and Millennial attendees.

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