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Captive or Captivated?

It’s time to show eventgoers some love.

Brand marketers all profess to love their customers, but like many star-crossed teenagers, they struggle to find the right words. That’s why they sift through data analytics, hoping to find a clear answer to the question, “what do my customers want?” They hire agencies that develop robust strategies and invest in elaborate marketing plans to reach these customers with a unique selling proposition.

Those of us engaged in event marketing are not immune to this challenge, although in our case, actions speak louder than words. And after sifting through data from the Freeman Trends Report – Q1 2023, it’s clear that anyone hoping to reach the younger group of eventgoers would do well to listen to the old Sting song, “If you love somebody, set them free.”

In a previous blog I noted many of the issues that differentiate the Next Generation Event Goers (NGEGs) from the rest of the B2B event population. The trend report indicates that while older attendees are generally satisfied with the curated content and networking provided, younger groups are not. The report summarizes it this way: one has tolerated being held captive at events while the other expects to be captivated.

The good news is that NGEGs see value in attending events and physically coming together with other professionals. Just don’t try to sell them a cookie-cutter experience. They are happy to get on the bus, but they want to drive.

Just as in every other aspect of their lives, young professionals seek personalized experiences that provide them flexibility to customize and direct both their avenues of learning and their networking experiences. They place high value on the promise of culture and cuisine. They want to discover something new. This means that holding them captive at an event center for four days, feeding them every meal in the ballroom and then sending them down the hall for entertainment just won’t fly.

We need to take their well-researched preferences to heart. Younger event attendees understand that their time is their most valuable asset. They want to spend it wisely and expect the freedom to do what matters to them. Increasingly, successful events must show love to attendees by setting them free.

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