The New Delegate Experience

Louisa Watson

When we undertook the development at The Woodlands Event Centre, Wyboston Lakes Resort,  we understood that our key bookers are now millennials, those browsing our web pages and doing the research are between 25 and 34 years.  Over the next ten years we must appeal to this millennial / Gen Y market to ensure we are competing and winning business.  These generations seek out different things, they want difference, experience, relaxation, quality and memorable touches. The delegate experience is changing…

Now more than ever the event experience is all about “delegate engagement”, moving away from presentations and lecturing style meetings to interactive sessions to create memorable experiences.

Personalisation is a big part of the experience by introducing interactive technology, ensuring delegates have time and space for networking and social opportunities whilst changing from the traditional conference format.

The trends indicate a need for less productivity and more creativity. Creativity will be a critical job skill and emerging technologies will change the way we do our jobs forever.

Clients and delegates are looking for something different, something more imaginative, they seek venues that can offer something unique.  There is a big focus on networking breaks and more interaction from delegates during meetings, especially as Social Media and streaming continues to develop.

The new Woodlands Event Centre now offers;

A branded coffee experience, with all the buzz and flavour of a high street coffee house but included in the delegate rate.  The F&B offering has changed, no more blanket servery type dining, it’s interesting and creative, it’s what you want to eat when you go out.  Dining is much less formal, more street food, market food, and bowl food from across the globe.  Next gen wants healthier eating with focus on calories and nutritionally balanced menus.        Allergens and dietary requirements have increased exponentially, along with the need for quality ingredients, locally sourced with local influences.  Guests want more experiences over material goods. Presentation is an important as taste and flavour.

The Space is important and the way we use it is changing;

At The Woodlands we have provided more breakout space, with social areas to work comfortably, relax or network with others.  We recognise that meetings are becoming shorter with more break times, time to meet others and to catch up on external pressures (emails, family calls etc.).  Next gen wants everything to be less formal, so we have addressed our tone of voice, uniforms, bar menus and décor to reflect something with more personality, more human.

A recent study on Generation Z conducted by BBC Newsbeat showed that gen z actually wants to learn, to be educated but they also want to be creative and feel supported.  They want to feel satisfied in their work but they also want freedom to enjoy time off.  The study also showed that of the last 4 generations gen Z is the most optimistic about the future but they crave guidance.  They perceive themselves as innovative not lazy. They value learning and education.  Yes they communicate differently to the older generations and have different aspirations and expectations, but they are indeed a generation of real promise.