The 21st century has seen the age of different generations, who share various beliefs, values and characteristics. Currently, Generation Y (Gen Y) is most influential on society, alongside with the growth of the new Generation, Z (Gen Z). When it comes to hosting an event and engaging with the audience, Gen Y does not want to be bored. Innovation is most appealing to them.

Firstly, it is important to establish who comes under the category of what we call ‘Generation Y’. There are a number of different names given to this generation, ‘millennials’, ‘echo boomers’, ‘Internet generation’, ‘iGen’ and ‘Net generation’. Gen Y ranges between those born in the years of 1977 and 1995. Although some have described those from Gen Y as being demanding, it is vital for today’s event organisers to consider them when planning their event to ensure they achieve the highest amount of success, as they are the majority of today’s attendees. Gen Y just likes to feel engaged and immersed within an event.

Why should you care?

It is imperative to ask yourselves, why should we care?

Those in Gen Y are now the future of events. Society today is beginning to be aware of this generation and some have even adapted to a new set of beliefs and values. Therefore with this in mind, this generation should be of key focus when delivering an event, making sure we deliver an event catering to their needs and what they view as exciting. Another reason to care is that we should acknowledge that the events industry is of key importance due to it being one of the fastest growing sectors, with many events being hosted on a daily basis.

So who really is Generation Y?

We must explore who is Gen Y before we discuss what they want from events. WebFinance Inc. (2017) examines who they are; ‘Children born during this time period have had constant access to technology (computers, cell phones)…required many employers to update their hiring strategy in order to incorporate updated forms of technology’. It can be implied that Gen Y focuses heavily on the use of technology with having a high presence on social networking sites. Social networking sites are their main platform of communication. Tweeting each other, sending messengers on Facebook messenger and liking photos on Instagram. Employers are now hiring in new updated ways to cater for this generation needs, this suggests that other generations are beginning to adapt to how this generation works best and how to really get through to them on their level.

Below are common characteristics of Gen Y explained through a framework by Fromm and Garton (2013:10) called the Participation Economy.


Communication is always key

Those in other generations can often feel worried about how to communicate to Gen Y, as their communication techniques will often vary to Gen Y’s. Those in other generations have formed opinions of Gen viewing them as being ‘self-obsessed and ‘generation Me, Me, Me’ (The Guardian, 2017) . Therefore, they can be considered as a challenge for other generations. They respond well to creative and interactive tools of communication. By the majority of this generation owning a mobile phone, they are constantly getting notifications instantly on their smartphones. This is a good tool of communication for this generation. Pre event, the use of creative invitations is of key importance. Before attending an event, Gen Y likes to know exactly what the event will entail, such as who are key speakers there, key performers and whether they will benefit from attending this event. They like to know what they are going to get out of it.

Thalheimer (2015) expands on how much people really take in:

  • 10% of what they READ
  • 20& of what they HEAR
  • 30% of what they SEE
  • 50%of what they SEE and HEAR’


Technology is very much a focal point for this generation as devices daily heavily influence them. Gen Y has grown up in a modern world dependent upon technology. It can be suggested that it is wise that event organisers incorporate interactive elements in the design of their events to guarantee the focus and interest from the attendees. Event organisers are depending on technology too. Gen Y is most interested when there are elements within the event that can relate to the use of their mobile phones and social media. Parry (2015) states ‘98.6% of UK Millennials own a mobile, and out of these 87.7% have a smartphone’. However, make sure that it is relevant to use this method in the event.

For Gen Y, the notion of instant gratification comes to mind. The desire that these individuals want to experience pleasure and what they want without there being a delay, (Entrepreneur, 2017).  They want it there and then, otherwise will become frustrated and disengage. An example of this is the use of a photo booth at an event, as a photo capturing the moment in an event is essential. If there is no photo evidence, then their eyes the event did not occur. They also enjoy the fact the image from the photo booth is printed instantly and they have it there and then.

Designing an attractive event

Ensuring the design of your event is attractive enough for your guests is of vital importance, as event organisers want to guarantee that the attendees experience is of a positive one. The customer experience is what matters the most to the event organiser. As previously discussed Gen Y do not want to be bored, therefore you most make sure your event is innovative as possible. A good suggestion when it comes to determining the location of an event is to pick somewhere modern, new and unusual. For example Outdoor events are often most appealing to Gen Y. Event organisers need to keep up with modern trends, as experiential marketing is what leads to successful event.

Focusing on the visuals in the design in the event is also essential. Visuals such as animated images and GIFS are what they find most interesting and engaging. Bright colours and creative patterns. When addressing this generation in a speech or presentation, use few words as long paragraphs and sentences can sometimes be disengaging and they will begin to switch off.


Although to some generations, Gen Y can be viewed as being demanding, this is just how this generation is. They like to feel interested and when it comes to events that should be the main priority for them, to ensure their guests are engaged. Creative event design, the use of technology and good communication is the right way forward.




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