Six Ways to Millennial-Proof Your Brand Experience with Event Technology

March 15, 2017

Katherine Zimoulis

As Vice President of Content Marketing for Freeman, Katherine Zimoulis helps tell the stories of the incredible work being accomplished at Freeman and shares the deep insights and thought leadership found within the organization. 

Most marketers know that digital and event technology is a must-have for events and brand experiences. But did you know that it’s mission-critical for organizations looking to engage Millennials and Gen Z?

In fact, 53% would rather give up their sense of smell than give up their technology. With the digital stakes so seemingly high when it comes to younger audiences, how can marketers incorporate the right mix into their events and brand experiences?

Here’s a short list of event technology best practices for marketers looking to engage Millennials – while ensuring they retain all five senses!

Authenticity, always

Younger audiences can sniff out a fake (see what we did there?) faster than you can say, “Let’s take a selfie!” So, your digital actions need to be just as authentic as your face-to-face interactions. If, for example, Snapchat isn’t a fit culturally for your organization, don’t force it – you may end up turning off Millennial influencers rather than engaging them. Always start with a sound strategy that works for your brand to ensure the best possible results. 

The Google guru

Word-of-mouth, particularly when online, is a big deal for today’s youth. Millennials will invest time researching your organization and event and reading reviews online before they invest in the resources to attend. Make sure they can easily find the info they seek when they Google your event. It’s particularly powerful when the information comes from a third-party influencer, such as someone who has attended in the past and shares his or her positive experiences. 

Insta, snap, face – oh my!

It should be no surprise that social media is a key digital integration to utilize for this audience. Consider YouTube and Instagram as the cornerstones for your social media strategy if you want to reach Millennials and Gen Z, as they’re driven by beautiful and thought-provoking content that they see online. Instagram offers a less-commercialized, visually driven network while YouTube attracts these groups with entertainment, education and more. 

Mobile app overload

These digitally native generations will flock to your event mobile app. Is it geared for this group? Make sure the app comes fully loaded with all the personalized bells and whistles this audience expects. They also crave reciprocal, one-stop application, so you get bonus points for making the components interactive. Take it beyond schedule customization and networking by incorporating cool tech like second screen and beacon-enabled notifications as well as gamification activities. 

Make the jaws drop

Want to really turn your tech up a notch? Millennials are motivated by brag-worthy moments they can capture and share, so give them a unique digital experience they can only find at your event. Consider selfie-worthy activations such as virtual reality, holograms, Pokémon Go-style augmented reality, and stunning projection mapping or LED walls.

Netflix-style education

Do you offer a virtual component to your program? This could be a great entry-level offering for younger generations not ready or able to invest in your full experience. Just make sure it delivers against what they expect for online media and on-the-go content: seamless streaming, customization and Netflix-style recommendations.

By embracing the digital age and experimenting with new technology, you can reap the reward of engaged audiences of all generations. As for Millennials and Gen Z, when they see, smell, hear, feel, and touch your efforts, they’ll be even quicker to embrace your brand and share the experience you provided.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.