#CventCONNECT Recap: Addressing the Generation Gap Session

Customers born at different points of time have distinct preferences in what they value, how they spend their time and money, and what marketing they’ll respond to. Francesca Vereb, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Cvent, has over 20 years of strategic marketing and hospitality background, and she’s been in the trenches creating campaigns to reach audiences of all types. During the session, Addressing the Generation Gap: Branding & Messaging to the Right Audience, Francesca shared the five generations that make up the American consumer and clever ways to get and hold their attention.

Generation Z (Born between 1999-present)

Our youngest generation is about 70 million strong and growing. Despite having grown up with 9/11 and terrorism, they are happy and hard-working. The Great Recession also impacted their attitudes making them both debt averse and cost-conscious. They’re the most digitally savvy, spending over 15 hours a day on their phones.

Smart tactics include:

  • They respond to storytelling, so creating an ongoing promotional effort that spins a yarn over time will hold their interest.
  • They’re incredibly participatory, so contests and other tactics to get them engaged are recommended.
  • Edgy and creative campaigns will appeal to they’re entrepreneurial spirit—YouTube is best bet site.
  • Language and tone are important given their traditional values — they’re unlikely to respond to crude or trashy messaging.
  • Texting is the mode of communication and images are required as they have an 8-second attention span.

Millennials (Born between 1981 and 1998)

At 80 million, millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation. They’re likely to be single, educated, and optimistic. Having grown-up with the internet, they’re smart, self-confident, savvy, and desire immediacy. With an “earn to spend” attitude towards money, work is a means to an end. Causes are important to them, and they’re incredibly loyal to friends, non-profits, and the companies that support them. Millennials love collaboration and enjoy communicating, sharing, and referring to friends and colleagues alike.

Smart tactics include:

  • They value the opinions of colleagues and friends–35% of planners are millennials, so target their collaborative nature with a planner referral program.
  • Consider contests to address their participation desires—and you can potentially use their contest submissions as part of future campaigns.
  • Texting tops email to deliver personalized messages for both business and leisure.
  • Favored content includes blogs, reviews, and stat lists.
  • Digital ads must be mobile with strong visuals—they also love images.
  • Create a relationship with a nonprofit or important cause to promote the mutual benefit concept.
  • They are impulsive, so providing add-ons as they complete bookings is a must.
  • Millennials love bleisure and are most likely to tack on leisure days to business travels so make it easy for them to say yes with discounts, coupons, or promotions.
  • They expect to share some personal data for potential discounts or free services, so consider how to make this a win-win.
  • They’ll participate in loyalty programs and prefer smaller frequent rewards.
  • Work with your DMO’s for nearby adventure options and promote these—they crave unique and exciting experiences.

Generation X (Born between 1965 and 1980)

As the children of the Baby Boomers, and sometimes referred to as “the latchkey kids,” Generation X is self-reliant and busy. With job, marriages, and kids, they’re often pressed for time and are desperately seeking life balance. In their late 30’s and 40’s, they tend to be cautious and are big but frugal spenders. Travel is spent taking family vacations with Florida and California as preferences.

Smart tactics include:

  • They make up the greatest percentage of planners, so make sure you’re online, RFP responsive, thorough and not wasting their time—they hate that!
  • They’re frugal spenders, so communicate what’s truly negotiable—almost half are willing to switch event venues for savings of less than 10%.
  • Work with DMO’s for family-friendly options and promote via email and Twitter.
  • They’re connected so remarketing with images is a must to remain top of mind for both business and leisure.
  • Your messaging should be smart and not condescending-they don’t like being talked down to.
  • Rewards programs must be easy to manage with clear discounts and benefits.
  • They love blogs so have some fun creating a consistent blog series that appeals to family needs.
  • Promote recent customer reviews on Facebook—while younger generations may have moved on, this generation continues to participate here—and they do like to participate!

Baby Boomers (Born between 1946 and 1964)

In their 50s and 60s, Baby Boomers tend to be more confident in themselves than in authority. With a focus on work, personal growth, and remaining youthful, they’re extremely active, travel frequently, and are looking for authentic experiences. Having grown up during the Cold War, they tend to have buy now, pay later attitude toward money, but want to feel like they’re getting a bargain. They are the most avid online researchers, and outspend younger adults online 2:1.

Smart tactics include:

  • 19% of planners are Baby Boomers, so remember to be upbeat, using positive language when responding to communications.
  • Value face-to-face communications so site visits will be additionally important—don’t under prepare for this vital activity in the process.
  • Baby Boomers spend the most time researching online so be as ubiquitous as possible posting fantastic images, promotions, and details to multiple locations—Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
  • Promotions and discounts are likely to impact this group the most.
  • They like rewards programs but the value and discounts applies here too.
  • Baby Boomers are big consumers of blogs—combine that with their desire to be active and youthful and you’ve got a winning combination

Silent Generation (Born between 1928-1945)

Representing about 9% of the population, the Silent Generation are in their 70s and 80s. As children of the Great Depression and World War ll, they tend to be frugal, careful, and desire security. While they have the lowest online percentage, they’re enthusiastic once engaged. And because they have the time, are frequent leisure travelers and spend more than other generations on travel.

Smart tactics include:

  • They appreciate being respected, so use appropriate language and grammar.
  • Use traditional marketing when targeting like newspaper and direct mail.
  • With their frugal natures, they are least likely to be impulsive shoppers.
  • Leverage their love of gift-giving by promoting experiences as gifts for children and grandchildren.

Apart from your product itself, generational differences are a major influence in buying behavior. Whether you’re attracting your typical planner audience or look to bring in a new leisure client base, explore the data that explains where they spend their time, money, and attention. This approach will help you build loyalty with guests, creating a more effective and efficient relationship between your customers and the brands you support.


Written by Cvent Guest