Retaining young professionals key goal for organisers

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Young professionals beginning their careers are more ambitious but have a shorter attention span when it comes to attending exhibitions, a new report suggests.In a report entitled The Power of Exhibitions in the 21st Century, the US-based Centre for Exhibition Industry Research analysed how young professionals view the meetings and exhibitions industry, and what can be done to attract them.The study, subtitled Identify, Discover and Embrace Change from the Point of View of Young Professionals, found that 87 per cent of under-40 professionals plan to attend at least one exhibition in the next two years and 84 per cent of respondents had attended at least one or more in the last three years.On average, respondents said they had the opportunity to attend 7.6 career-related events in the last three years but only attended 2.8 of them.While ‘Generation X’ attendees, aged between 28 and 39, consider time with their family one of their highest priorities, the younger ‘Millennials’, between the ages of 18 and 27, are more ambitious about their careers and contributions to society. In this respect, Millenials are surprisingly similar to ‘Baby Boomers’, aged 40 to 63.While ‘Gen Xers’ are harder to win over than Millenials, the younger demographic tends to seek out instant gratification, suggesting they could be easily drawn away from the industry once their curiousity had been satisfied. Millenials also attended a higher average percentage of career-related events made available.“In summary, Gen Xers are the challenge facing the exhibitions and events industry, while Millenials are the opportunity,” CEIR claims in the report.In terms of preferred session format at conferences, 47 per cent of respondents prefer a one-hour lecture followed by a 15-minute question and answer session. Approximately 25 per cent prefer a hands-on workshop and only 15 per cent prefer an open discussion between the speaker and audience.The study is based on interviews with more than 300 people aged 20-39 at 10 exhibitions in different industry sectors in 2008 and 2009, as well as online survey results from young people who had attended an exhibition in the last three years. 
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