Attracting Generation X – the forgotten generation of meeting attendees

Meeting attendees: Attracting Generation X to your corporate meeting or event

While Generation X makes up less of the workforce than Baby Boomers, and now Millennials, they still make up a considerable portion of your meeting attendees and organization/association demographic. We tend to hear less about this demographic and therefore plan less around them, but forgetting to target this “sandwiched” generation is a mistake!

Why you should focus more of your efforts on attracting Generation X

When it comes to your attendees, particularly if planning events for a professional association, Generation Xers probably hit the sweet spot of your active members, or potential members, being senior level and aged 38-52. This means that they have the potential to be the ambassadors for your organization, support succession planning, and provide valuable insights into what attendees and members are looking for.

Also, while Baby Boomers are looking to retire and Millennials may be more focused on their personal career projection, Generation X may be in a place where they are ready to be more involved in their industry and affiliated organizations. Most Baby Boomers are slowly becoming less involved, and Statscan projections suggest the labour force will grow by only about 0.5 per cent a year in the 2020s, so this means that the majority of your targets for engagement are already in the industry.

What are Generation Xers looking for?

Some of the generalized characteristics of this generation are that they are self-reliant, risk-takers, and balance work and personal life. These may be important factors when you look at your “new professional” demographics (since they may not necessarily fall into the status quo for young professionals), and also when planning your themes or social events at conferences (think health and well-being). They have probably also feel like they’ve been to a million trade shows and conferences, and bottom line, are looking for something different than what they saw last year (or the year before). A few other things to consider when meeting planning for this generation are:

  • To make sure you communicate the value in your marketing pieces. How is it different? How is it forward-thinking? Ensure your topics don’t come across as too similar from the previous couple of years, because they will remember.
  • How is this meeting different? Change up the format of the day, location, presentation style, etc. Ensure your presenters are not recycling their topics from previous years, and consider giving preference to new speakers, as long as you can do so without sacrificing attendance on popular presenters.
  • Make your events memorable. If they had a great time at your previous event, that will be a strong contributing factor to their attending again. Regardless of some of the changes you make, if the last event was a bore, they’ll trust their own opinion over your promise that this one will be different and innovative.

Once you have their attention, keep Generation Xers involved! Avoid losing this generation and creating an even larger gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials.

About the author:

As Director, Association Management & Consulting Services at Redstone Agency Inc., Maddy has worked with over 20 not-for-profit organizations located in Canada and the United States as well as an international association. She is focused on ensuring her clients always receive advice based on best practices and brings a wealth of knowledge in membership engagement, CMS and website platforms, systems and processes management as well as change management. A bilingual member of the team, Maddy also has expertise in providing board and volunteer support and structuring the annual financial reporting systems of many organizations. Maddy has published articles on Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, green workplaces and taking control of workplace stress. Maddy was named a 2015 Top 40 Under 40 by the Association Forum of Chicagoland and USAE Weekly. This prestigious award recognizes 40 up-and-coming association and not-for-profit professionals who demonstrate high potential for success in leadership roles and exhibit a strong commitment to the association management profession. Maddy is also the 2014 recipient of the Donna Mary Shaw Award from the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE). It is awarded to individuals in the not-for-profit sector with a passion for management and mentoring. Maddy sits on CSAE’s Young Professionals Taskforce and is currently working towards completing her CAE designation.

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