To the Point

From Boomers to Gen Z

Meetings have a role in bridging the generational divide.

Millennials — born in the early 1980s to the early 2000s — have now come of age. A great deal of attention (perhaps too much) has been focused over the past few years on

helping organizations understand this generation’s distinguishing characteristics, including being globally minded, tech-savvy, and detached from institutions and traditional marketing. 

And now, a new generation is coming up close behind them. Generation Z, or the Post-Millennials, are generally classified as being born in the mid-1990s to mid-2000s, which means the oldest of this group is just starting to enter the workforce. Born to Gen Xers, this generation is even more tech-savvy than Gen Y. According to FreemanXP’s white paper Preparing for Generation Z: What Marketers Should Know — Now, Gen Z is also more fiscally sensitive and more likely to be tomorrow’s entrepreneurs than tomorrow’s employees.

It’s important for organizations to recognize the differences between generations and to continue to update our brands and keep our meetings relevant for each incoming generation. It’s also important for all generations to feel like they belong in our organizations and at our meetings. That’s why PCMA is proud to honor its third class of 20 in Their Twenties. And it’s also why, at PCMA Convening Leaders in Vancouver this month, we’ll have opportunities specifically for younger professionals to get acclimated, including PCMA U — a session on preparing students for the meetings industry — and a meet-up just for emerging leaders. 

But focusing exclusively on one generation misses the point. Face-to-face meetings, after all, offer a prime opportunity to get to know — and learn from — a variety of people of all ages, people who work in different environments and are from different parts of the world. Meetings should be places where generations interact and learn from each other, formally and informally. 

Meetings should also provide the chance for attendees to tailor their experience to meet their needs — whether those needs happen to match others in their generation or not. Some may want deep-dives into a few core subjects; others may want to touch on top trends in a wide variety of areas. Some may want to meet as many new people as possible; others may want to build relationships with a select few. Some may learn best by talking, others by listening. 

This month at Convening Leaders, we’ll be exploring a number of ways to allow attendees to personalize their meeting experience, whatever their age or interest. Using gamification to help attendees socialize, engaging attendees across all cultures, and exploring technology’s impact on events are all on the table. After all, whether you’re a Baby Boomer or a member of Generation Z, there is much we can learn from each other.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.