Meeting Planning for Millennials

Here’s how to build a unique meeting that will appeal to Generation Y.

But why would I want to do that? Why center my corporate retreat around a bunch of self-involved, perpetually offended hipsters who can’t get their faces out of their phones for 5 minutes? While it may be humorous to poke fun at the largest generation in the United States, it’s estimated that by 2025 75% of the U.S. workforce will be millennials. We put together a few things to consider while planning a corporate meeting for the highest educated, constantly connected, most competitive, tech savviest generation ever to keep the future of your company engaged and challenged during your next retreat.

The where. One of the most important things to consider when planning your corporate meeting is location. By age 25, many of Generation Y are well-traveled and have seen much of the Western European Capitals. Due to this generation’s desire for individuality, you should look for a venue that goes beyond a conference center. Look for a location as unique as your employees. If the venue doesn’t offer something fun, make sure the destination does.

“More and more we’re finding that the newer generation doesn’t want to feel limited by four walls and a PowerPoint. At Woodloch, we look for innovative ways to take the meeting experience out into nature,” says Lisa Hugaboom, the Corporate Meeting Director for Woodloch, a resort, meeting destination, and world-class spa in the Pocono Mountains. “Over the last 13 years working in my position, I’ve had the privilege of coordinating with the most pioneering planners in the industry. People who really have a grasp on what their workforce will benefit from.”

Other things to look for in your where include shareable moments. Millennials are more connected than any other generation, and they want to stay connected at all times. Give them visually appealing surroundings that include activities and meals that can be shared via Instagram-worthy photos. And while we’re on food, choose a destination that has locally sourced and sustainable dining options and you’ll be sure to impress Gen Y.

The how. Won’t I just need some puppies and soy lattes? Not exactly. Although you’ll want access to great coffee, you should focus on keeping your audience’s attention with brief lectures, and visually stimulating content like videos and a focus on interaction. Gen Y is always looking for the experience, so come up with ways to engage versus instruct. Offer plenty of nontraditional networking opportunities, such as a nature walk, mixology class, or scenic tours. Most importantly, get your team interacting. As part of a connected generation, we often feel isolated even among one another. Challenge your team with unique team building options that go beyond Never Have I Ever or a Trust Fall.

At the end of the day, just keep in mind, Millennials are more like Gen X than the hilarious and sometimes cruel stereotypes would lead you to believe. They’re a valuable member of your team, and their value will only increase in the coming years. When it comes time to plan your next corporate meeting, take a moment to consider what will foster the growth you’re both looking for.

What do you think was the secret to your most successful corporate meeting?