Create a Student Track to Prevent Brain Drain For Your Show

Create a Student track to Prevent Brain Drain For Your Show

Attendees are the heart of the trade show industry and I value all of my attendees, from the young to the young-at-heart.

The best part about my job is meeting new faces and seeing familiar ones.

Nothing could replace the loyalty of returning attendees and the stories they share.

And it’s because of those nurtured relationships that it’s so important to make sure my events flourish instead of getting lost in the fray of irrelevance, otherwise, they could fade and neither the young or the old would benefit from them.

It’s my job to make sure that I stay up-to-date with emerging trends and innovations that will attract the younger generation so that my ideas support the show, and ensure it will be around for a long, long time.

Open Up Your World

Attracting students and young professionals to your show is not only a smart move but it’s one that’s self-preserving.

Having younger generations engage with your event and offer new ideas is crucial to maintaining your position in the market.

What changes can you make to help keep your event thriving?

I’m so glad you asked!

Here are a few things you can start implementing now to open up your show to the young markets (think generations y and z):

Eliminate Barriers

We want to eliminate as many barriers as we can that could prevent younger people from attending and the cost of entry is at the top of the list.

A way to approach this potential barrier is to talk with your sponsors and see if they can offer a contest where young people can apply for an opportunity to not only participate in the conference but to gain access to one-on-one time with key stakeholders at your event.

Another option is to offer limited company-sponsored scholarships to the event or discounts for students.

One of my favorite ways to get young people in the door is to have a few mystery shoppers shop your event. This can give you important data, like social media engagement, who they met, and what educational tracks they took.

Offer A Customized Approach

What I love about younger people is the fresh perspective they bring to old ideas.

To help facilitate the generation of new ideas I like to create programs that are tailored to them.  This customized approach encourages engagement during and between shows.

One way to do this is to create a young professionals committee (if it’s an association run event) where they can brainstorm different ideas and provide input on things like education tracks, social media advertising, etc.

Young professionals are a hungry bunch and they want to share their ideas and be a part of that communal process. To help feed that desire, host a young professionals meetup and reception during a show. It’s a great way to get their social and creative juices flowing and create excitement for the event.

Create Value

We’ve all asked ourselves the question “so what’s in it for me?”

And no doubt young professionals will be asking themselves that question before committing to attend any show.

Make sure you have an answer for them.

In case you need some ideas upfront, here are a couple of my favorites:

  • Implement a mentor/mentee program. It’s a familiar face that can offer experienced professional advice to newcomers in the industry.
  • Offer continuing education credit opportunities through education tracks where they can absorb and then apply the knowledge and industry insights they’ve learned.

There are some critics of the above approach. They want to hold onto what’s left of the methods that have been used in the past for fear of alienating others.

I hear you.

But it’s time for a shift, not a divide.

I like to think of it as a strategic adaptation towards what’s to come with an abundance of opportunities for every generation.