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Kim Sayatovic

Understanding Your Millennial Event Clients and Keeping Them Happy

Gen Y--aka the millennial generation--is taking over. Here's how to win them over to your business.

Millennials have clearly taken their place among today’s power consumers and now make up the lion’s share of most sectors of the special events market. In order to successfully court millennial clients, you need to understand how they operate and transform your business into one that appeals to their unique needs and communication styles.

Who Are the Millennials?
While the definition varies a bit (depending on which millennial-generated wiki you read), it is generally accepted that members of Generation Y—aka millennials--were born between 1982 and 2004. The very earliest of the group may remember the first personal computers and old-style video games, but most cannot conceive of a time without the Internet and cellular phones. They are accustomed to connecting instantly with friends, family and businesses, and they are characterized by an acute need for instant gratification.

Be Sure to Connect with Technology
What does that mean for your business? For one thing, you will be judged by your online presence. There are so many tools and resources for building a user-friendly website and easing in to the wild world of social media that there is truly no excuse anymore for a substandard web presence. If you don’t exist online, you essentially don’t exist to millennials.

You need to make yourself accessible to millennials in ways they recognize and respect. To this generation, even email is “too slow,” and don’t get them started on “snail mail.” Plan to use Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, or texts to stay in touch.

Exercise caution, though. They might not remember the social graces that used to protect our valuable personal time, often messaging late into the night or at insanely early hours of the morning. Train them to honor your business hours by establishing them early on in your relationship, and being disciplined yourself. It’s totally okay to promise to respond to inquiries within 24 business hours, or to set office hours that still allow you the time you need to recharge and disconnect.

Know Where to Draw Inspiration--but Stay Fresh
Millennials are better than previous generations at finding and sharing inspiration photos to help their creative professionals form their event designs. They ultimately want an event worthy of sharing on Pinterest or Instagram, but at the same time they want the results to be personal to them.

To appeal to this generation, you need to stay familiar with the hottest trends while honing your personal creativity and skill so you know how to produce fresh, custom designs. Aim to become a thought leader, not just a follower, and you will definitely appeal to Gen Y.

Think “Experience”
Millennials want more than just an event with dinner and dancing. They want their guests to enjoy an unforgettable experience.

Use your clients’ interests and personal style to help customize an event that will capture their guests’ imaginations. If they love a certain style of cuisine, make it an interactive chef-manned station paired with authentic entertainment from that culture. If they are passionate about a certain sport, hire the local team’s mascot to pop in for a meet-and-greet. Think way outside of the box when planning millennial events and focus on once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Capturing the minds and hearts of millennials isn’t impossible. You simply need to honor their unique personalities and find ways to connect with them on their terms.

Master the art of pleasing millennials now, because they will dominate our markets for several years to come. Be courageous and creative and you’ll have no trouble working with this dynamic generation.

Kim Sayatovic is the founder and chief creative officer of Belladeux Event Design, a full-service wedding and event design firm based in New Orleans.

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