Brand Connection

Can Encouraging Bleisure Travel Boost Millennial Conference Attendance?

/ Sep 15, 2017 (Handout photo)

Millennials might be most susceptible to the mixing of business and pleasure travel. Here’s what to tout to get them to your next conference.

As millennials become a greater percentage of meeting attendees, catering to them a bit more—in both programming and marketing—makes sense. Talking up the benefits of mixing a trip to your conference with a couple days of fun might get more of this demographic registered for your meetings.

A Skift report on the bleisure travel phenomenon—the mixing of business and pleasure travel—found that 94 percent of younger travelers are “more than” or “equally” likely to take a bleisure trip in the next five years, which is significantly higher than the worldwide average. (Even another report, which called into question the rise of bleisure travel—due, frankly, to its very strict definition of the term—acknowledged that younger travelers were more likely to partake of the trend.)

So, what aspects of your host city will move more millennials from maybes to ticket booked? Here’s some advice.

**Talk about ease of travel around the city (ala your own two feet). **

If you choose a host city with a walkable downtown—and maybe bike share and car share options to boot—you definitely want to tout that.

Indianapolis has joined the bike share revolution with the addition of 29 Indiana Pacers Bikeshare stations downtown. And the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, an eight-mile urban bike and pedestrian path, is a great way to see a lot of what downtown Indy has to offer sans car.

“The Cultural Trail is great as everyone says it is,” said Michael Bricker, chief innovator at People for Urban Progress, a local nonprofit that gives discarded materials a new life. “You can hop on it and feel safe and connect to a lot of the cool neighborhoods in the city.”

Play up the sports scene.

Sports nuts of all ages will use a work trip to visit an iconic sports venue or just catch a game of whatever team is playing. And many cities have some unique sporting stories that you’ll want to share.

For example, no trip to Indianapolis would be complete without a visit to the Indy Speedway. “One of the things people who live here take for granted is going to the Indy speedway,” said Ryan Vaughn, president of Indiana Sports Corp. “The scale of it is jaw-dropping. It is the Yankee Stadium of racing and definitely a must-see.”

Highlight the history and culture.

Every city has its origin story, and your history buff members will be into learning it.

Did you know that Indianapolis has the second most war memorials in the United States? (The No. 1 spot goes, unsurprisingly, to Washington, D.C.) Also, Indy’s downtown was laid out by Alexander Ralston, who worked with D.C. urban designer Pierre L’Enfant, which explains why Ralston modeled Indianapolis after the nation’s capital. Other cool history factoids can be found at the Indiana State Museum.

In terms of architecture, the city boasts the Athenaeum, built in the 1890s as a “house of culture” for the community, which is still its function today. A National Historic Landmark, the Athenaeum houses Indiana’s oldest restaurant, The Rathskeller, which dates back to 1894.

Share how to get your shop on.

Don’t forget the shoppers. Does your host city have a cool local retail scene? Is there awesome antiquing to be had?

Jessica Davis, director of the Office of Sustainability at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, does her sustainable shopping at Midland Arts & Antiques (“I can spend half a day in that place—it’s huge,” she said), Society of Salvage, and Tim and Julie’s Another Fine Mess.

Mention how to get back to nature.

Are there large parks, preserves, or otherwise nice natural habitat nearby? Easy access to nature will definitely appeal to certain potential attendees.

Davis encourages Indy visitors to explore nature at White River State Park and White River Canal, Eagle Creek Park, Central Canal Towpath (and check out Butler University’s CUE farm), Indiana Museum of Art 100 Acres, and Nina Mason Pulliam EcoLab at Marian University (55 acres of restored wetland).

Every city has its charms, though different things will appeal to different people. Highlight these main categories, and you will likely pique the interest of more than one millennial looking to see more of the country.