Roy Benear, divisional director of sales for SmartSource, is focused on creating client partnerships built on trust, purpose, collaboration and delivering “best in class” service. His passion for the industry is based on his belief in the power of bringing people together to connect, inspire and engage with each other.
Event Planning for Gen Z: 8 Characteristics to Understand
Generation Z, commonly defined as those born between 1996 and 2012, is the most diverse generation in history, having grown up with technology embedded into their everyday lives and being more socially and environmentally conscious than previous generations.
As a result, the needs and interests of Gen Z are quite different from other generations, and event planners must understand their unique characteristics to make events more relevant and appealing to them.
Here are eight key characteristics of Gen Z that event organizers should consider when planning events that cater to this demographic.
Gen Z grew up with technology, always connected and with instant access to knowledge.
When targeting Gen Z attendees, enhance their experience by creating a seamless blend of natural and virtual worlds that are easy to access. Build buzz by offering virtual reality experiences, engaging in social media conversations and providing fresh and captivating content across all relevant platforms.
You must deliver the digitally connected experience Gen Z craves, such as enabling year-round meet-up opportunities with digital programs for further engagement and relationship building.
Diverse and inclusive
Events should prioritize inclusivity by featuring diverse speakers, performers and panelists representing various backgrounds and perspectives.
Creating safe and inclusive spaces and addressing accessibility concerns can help ensure that all attendees feel welcomed and valued.
Using your event platform’s “plan your day” functionality and deploying easily accessible digital signage for wayfinding of eateries, quiet spaces and event activity locations will help reduce anxiety among those with neurological conditions or those who have accessibility concerns.
Gen Z’s entrepreneurial mindset can be tapped by featuring successful young entrepreneurs as speakers or hosting workshops on freelancing, starting a business or personal endeavors.
Encouraging networking opportunities and mentorship programs can also foster their entrepreneurial aspirations, allowing them to better integrate into your event environment.
Using digital signage at your event, you can color code areas for different audiences and offer conversation starters on screens to help ease attendees into networking.
Socially and environmentally conscious
Incorporating sustainability initiatives into events — such as reducing waste, utilizing eco-friendly materials, supporting local vendors and having plant-based menu options — can resonate with Gen Z’s values.
Partnering with non-profit organizations or incorporating social impact activities like volunteering or fundraising around your events can further engage this socially conscious generation.
Perhaps the most significant shift we could see in event attendance by Gen Z is a substantial change in event eco-credentials, which can be monitored and measured through event platforms.
You can reduce your printed waste considerably by using event scheduling features within your app (while keeping attendees updated in real-time) or by installing LED displays and lighting, which on average consume 50% to 70% less energy than traditional methods.
Multi-taskers and shorter attention spans
To captivate the attention of Gen Z, events should deliver concise and engaging content.
Utilize interactive presentations with dynamic visuals, and encourage active participation through live polls, audience Q&A and quizzes to capture their interest quickly.
Gone are the days of filling every session with 45 minutes of content. Instead, change your format with TED-talk style lightning sessions or rapid-fire presentations that can effectively convey critical information in just 15 minutes.
By adjusting your content and delivering it dynamically and engagingly, you can cater to Gen Z’s shorter attention spans while providing valuable insights and takeaways.
Personal branding and self-expression
Is your event Instagrammable?
Incorporating opportunities for self-expression — such as interactive art installations, DIY workshops or digital content creation zones — will encourage attendees to share their experiences through social media and increase the visibility and credibility of your event.
Creating visually captivating and “Instagrammable” moments throughout your event will entice attendees to capture and share their unique perspectives, allowing them to curate their online presence and express themselves creatively.
Gen Z is comfortable connecting online, so provide integrated event platforms and tools that facilitate digital networking.
Consider hosting niche networking events or meetups tailored to specific interests or sectors within your industry. Gen Z is passionate about finding like-minded individuals with similar career aspirations or hobbies. By providing targeted networking opportunities, you create spaces where attendees can connect on a deeper level and form lasting connections.
Utilize event apps or online communities where attendees can create profiles, engage in discussions and connect before, during and after the event. Encourage attendees to share their social media profiles, enabling them to build relationships beyond the event’s timeframe to make the most of their time (and connections) when they arrive at your event.
Don’t oversell it – Gen Z is hyper-aware of when they’re being sold to and when experiences differ from what they were pitched to be. Overnight, your event could suffer from a significant drop in attendance, negative reviews and a tarnished reputation. Building trust and delivering on promises is crucial to maintain the loyalty and engagement of this discerning generation.
You can be more authentic by engaging in two-way conversations, actively listening to feedback and adjusting your event based on their input. Avoid gimmicks or exaggerated claims that could erode trust, and instead show that you genuinely care about their experiences and strive to deliver an event that exceeds their expectations.