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IACC reveals new ideals and demands from shifting demographics in the European Meetings Marketplace

This week at IMEX Frankfurt’s Inspiration Centre, Development Counsellors International (DCI) and International Association of Conference Centers (IACC), present the findings of a recent study of meeting planners living and working in Europe, entitled "Exploring the Generational Preferences of European Meeting Planners."

Conducted in partnership with IMEX Group, the study explored the varying preferences of different generations of meeting planners and how these preferences shape how meeting and conference space is selected. For the purpose of this study, generations were defined as: Mature (age 66 and older), Baby Boomer (age 47-65), Generation X (age 33-46) and Millennials (age 18-32).

"In delivering this year's survey to IMEX delegates, IACC CEO, Mark Cooper noted "Meeting room design innovations throughout IACC's 350 conference centres situated in 19 countries, were creating increasingly more innovative meeting room designs to meet the expectations of Gen X and Millennial delegates. Cooper noted that the survey revealed that open space, moveable furniture and informal set up are meeting room characteristics that European meeting planners indicate as 'most important'."

The study surveyed 101 European meeting planners of various generations who plan meetings in Europe. It evaluated the effectiveness of sales/marketing tactics, the importance of key criteria in meeting location selection and why a destination/venue is often not selected as a meeting location.

"As baby boomers begin to retire and Millennials enter the workforce as meeting planners, it’s important for convention bureaus and conference facilities to recognize that the way they have traditionally sold to a meeting planner is going to change because what the meeting planner considers important is fluctuating,” said DCI Executive Vice President/Partner, Karyl Leigh Barnes.

Key Findings:
· Overall, the generations are united in their prioritization of accessibility/location, appropriate meeting space and value as highly important selection criteria when planning a meeting.
· Digital materials are king for selling to Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials, but Matures still prefer in-person selling during tradeshow appointments.
· Baby Boomers and Matures ranked technology/connectivity via WiFi as the most important factor in selecting a venue. Technology was ranked as more important to these two generations than it was to Millennials who look at cost as their top consideration for selecting a meeting space.
· 55 per cent of respondents consider the age of conference attendees when selecting a venue. Off-site activity options and the “cool factor” of the venue and location are very important factors for programs with Generation X and Millennial attendees.

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