Millennials expect Wi-Fi and 'edutainment' at conventions

July 23, 2012
Contact Information:

Godwin-Charles Ogbeide, Associate Professor,Food, Human Nutrition and Hospitality Management, University of Arkansas,

479-575-2579 / gogbeide@uark.edu.

Carolyn Clark, Professional Convention Management Association
312-423-7271 / cclark@pcma.org.

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Remember "It's cool inside!" signs on storefronts? For readers under about age 50, the sign meant the store had air conditioning. The equivalent is now "Free Wi-Fi!" – or local area network capability -- for businesses with customers in the 18-30 Millennial generation.

Event planners seeking to attract Millenials are also expected to provide free Wi-Fi, says Godwin-Charles Ogbeide, associate professor of restaurant and hospitality management in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas. He was part of a team that studied key factors in attracting young people to meetings, conventions and other events.

More than 2,000 respondents participated in the largest survey of its kind led by a team of hospitality and human science experts, including George Fenich of East Carolina University and Shelia Scott-Halsell of Oklahoma State University along with Ogbeide. A report on the project sponsored by the Professional Convention Management Association is available on the PCMA website at http://www2.pcma.org/docs/pdf/millenial_generation_findings.

Some things have not changed so much, Ogbeide said, such as a strong preference for face-to-face communication, networking opportunities for job-seeking younger people, mentally challenging content for older Millennials and engaging keynote speakers.

However, meetings and events must provide entertaining education, or "edutainment," the report says -- not lectures and basic PowerPoint presentations.

Eighty-six percent of respondents preferred structured meetings and conferences, but they wanted them to be "inspiring and fun," Ogbeide said. The study found that interactive games and small group meetings with creative activities are preferred by many,