Millennials are traditionalists in some respects, according to a recent study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. The center's research, which was sponsored by The Society for Independent Show Organizers, revealed that even in an age of virtual reality, social media and smartphones, old-fashioned techniques are holding their own when it comes to engaging millennials.
Specifically, the 2014 Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study revealed that millennials still regard the trade show as a critical component of the marketing mix, according to a summary of the report posted on the CEIR blog. Moreover, the majority of millennials who attend these types of exhibitions lean toward planning their schedules using traditional paper-based show guides and printed conference agendas, with 59 percent of the more than 300 respondents expressing this preference. Only one-quarter (26 percent) said they liked to use mobile apps to manage their time at a trade show.
In terms of receiving communications from event organizers, participants displayed a partiality for email. While this channel isn't exactly old-school, it's certainly not cutting-edge. However, that isn't to say organizers should ignore more modern options such as social media altogether, as 13 percent of respondents said this platform was their primary source of trade show information.
"While it makes sense to pay attention to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online venues, don't lose sight of the role that traditional email can have on your event's attendance numbers," warned the CEIR blog.
This is a good rule of thumb for trade show organizers and exhibitors in general: While it's important to keep up-to-date on the latest trends, particularly when marketing to a younger audience, take care not to go overboard and entirely forsake old but familiar methods of outreach.