Tips from the Trenches: 6 Ideas to Make Your Events Appeal to Gen Z 

Generation Z, or “Gen Z” for short, is the demographic cohort born between 1997 and 2012 that succeeds Millennials. Commonly referred to as “Zoomers,” these tech-savvy digital natives grew up with mobile phones and social media apps and, therefore, learn, think, and communicate differently from older generations who did not grow up with mobile technology.

This makes it difficult for event organizers and marketers to use a one-size-fits-all approach to engaging diverse audiences. Strategies that work with Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers simply won’t be compelling for Generation Z. Fortunately, there’s an answer to this problem!

Amenah Rizwan is the founder of Picnics Toronto, a company that specializes in micro and experiential events for younger generations. In other words, she’s the perfect person to talk to about engaging Gen Zers at your in-person, virtual, and/or hybrid gatherings.

Some of the strategies Amenah shares in this article include:

  • Sending personalized invitations
  • Using eye-catching aesthetics
  • Meeting attendees where they are
  • Daring to have a little fun with your events
  • Taking a non-traditional approach from time to time
  • Leveraging social media platforms the right way
Headshot of Amenah Rizwan, Founder & Operations Director at Picnics Toronto.

6 Strategies to Engage Younger Audiences in 2024

How do you appeal to younger generations? Plenty of association and corporate event planners have asked themselves this exact question in recent years. The good news: it’s really not that difficult.

The six tactics below will help you reach Gen Z in productive ways—without forcing you to completely redesign your entire event experience. Even better, they come from an event planner who specializes in helping her clients engage a young demographic at their events.

Let’s take a look!

1. Personalize Your Invitations

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in; personalization is essential.

When it comes to live events, personalization can help create buzz around your gatherings and engage attendees even better during keynote speeches and breakout sessions.

We generally try to really create a lot of buzz and we do it by focusing on personalization.

-Amenah R.

In fact, personalization is a key component of Amenah’s event strategy—and it all starts with the custom invitations she sends to every person on her guest list.

“We will send [attendees] personal invitations, very aesthetic invitations, so they feel like they’re not just getting invited to just another event. It feels a little bit more tailored and personalized to them, and that’s one of the ways we really strive to create that.”

-Amenah R.

There are many ways to personalize an invitation. Obviously, you can address each attendee by name. But you can also design your invites in a way that connects with your target audience.

Woman with glasses looking at her phone, alongside a floating popup of the personalized invitation to an outdoor event she just received.

Who is your event for? What do these people care about? And how can you incorporate these things into your invitation emails? These are the kinds of questions you should ask yourself.

Of course, personalized invites aren’t the only way to appeal to younger generations. You can also make sure your events look good. Let’s talk more about that…

2. Use Eye-Catching Aesthetics

Put yourself in Gen Z’s shoes.

They’ve grown up with the internet. Social media is their preferred form of entertainment. And influencers are more revered by them than most Hollywood celebrities.

Younger generations are also inundated with content. As such, they tend to gravitate towards things that look good. Put another way, they like content that has a pleasing aesthetic.

“I think aesthetics is incredibly important for Gen Z. They’re a very aesthetically-conscious generation because they’ve grown up in a digital age.”

-Amenah R.

When Amenah plans an event, she pays special attention to the imagery her team creates. Her invitations, venues, decorations—even the merchandise—all work together to create a cohesive experience that speaks to Gen Z’s well-cultivated visual tastes.

“Aesthetics is very important to Gen Z… It really makes them feel like it’s more than just another corporate event. It’s something tailored to them.”

-Amenah R.

3. Meet Attendees Where They Are

Contrary to popular belief, Gen Z wants to engage with your events. You just have to plan content and activities that feel relevant to their interests and stage of life.

“We’ll look at what their interests are, what their hobbies are, what type of little engaging activities we can do.”

-Amenah R.

Amenah has found a variety of effective ways to do this. For example, she’s booked specific venues that Gen Zers will deem social media-worthy. Or made sure Daydream and Sapsucker beverages were available. Or planned in-person bingo activations that make it fun for event attendees to network with one another.

Group of happy event attendees having a picnic while they toast and take a selfie.

According to Amenah, your event merchandise can be used to engage event attendees, too. The key is creating merchandise that Gen Zers actually want to wear—even after the event is over.

And then for Gen Z, they have no problem wearing [merchandise] they just want it to integrate a little more into what they would regularly wear. So if we have an event… We would have merchandise in neutral colors that go along with the brand that they could wear regularly outside of the event and outside of the workplace as well.

-Amenah R

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Have Fun

Even the most serious attendees, regardless of their age, see events as a break from their day-to-day work. This is particularly true for Gen Z. 

“It’s essentially just being okay with having a little bit of fun. You can still have a very professional event, but still showcase a little bit of your fun side.”

-Amenah R.

Gen Z wants to learn, network, and have a great time at the events they attend. The question is, how do you host a professional gathering that adequately entertains your younger guests? To achieve this, Amenah encourages her clients to look to pop culture for inspiration.

Speaking of which…

5. Take a Non-Traditional Approach

Older generations often treat Gen Zers like aliens. The truth is, they’re not that different from Millennials and Gen Xers. They simply grew up in a radically different environment.

“I think the gap, it’s not honestly too big to bridge. It’s just essentially creating space for Gen Z as well… So it’s not necessarily very different.”

-Amenah R.

According to Amenah, one of the best ways to connect with younger generations is to step away from traditional venues. Why host your next meeting in a hotel conference center when you could host it at a lakeside retreat center? The second option will be much more appealing to your younger attendees.

“We’ve arranged beach days or outdoor movie nights for even senior and C-suite level staff, and they’ve always had a great time.”

-Amenah R.

Now, you don’t have to abandon everything you’ve ever learned about event management to appease Gen Z. Small gestures go a long way. For example, you can host your event at a traditional venue. But try to set up a unique outdoor space that lends itself to content creation for your younger attendees.

A scenic lake during the day surrounded by trees.

Or, go ahead and work with your favorite caterer for your next event. However, purchase trendy beverages that Gen Zers will want to post about on TikTok.

“You can keep the traditional, but then you can also just add in little pockets being able to step outside of the box.”

-Amenah R.

6. Leverage Social Media Effectively

Finally, to appeal to a younger generation, you have to ace your social media game.

Gen Zers spend a lot of time on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. If you want them to attend your event, you need to create content for these platforms. Just do it the right way.

“Leverage social media and, just like I was saying, leverage it in a fun way.”

-Amenah R.

The content you create for social media should be fun to engage with. That way, when a younger person in your target audience sees a post about your upcoming conference, they think to themselves, “Hey, that seems pretty cool. I’d love to buy a ticket to their next event!

According to Amenah, Duolingo is one of the best brands on social media right now. Why is that? Because they create awesome social content that elevates their live events.

“Look at Duolingo, look at how insane they’ve blown up over the past couple of years. And they’ve also maintained that growth with how they create for their social media perspective. It’s not so they’re informing their audience of what they’re doing. They’re just resonating with their audience and getting them to want to participate in their events.”

-Amenah R.

Wrapping Up

You can appeal to younger generations with your events. You just have to think outside the box and adopt new strategies. After reading this article, you have a leg up in that regard.

Here’s another idea you can use to connect with Gen Z attendees: use a fully customizable Event App.

A smartphone showing EventMobi's Event App Activity Feed, and popus highlighting event sessions live polls and group discussions.

The EventMobi Mobile Event App is loaded with features you can use to keep attendees informed and engaged during your next event. It’s also easy to create a totally unique and eye-catching design that will differentiate your events from the competition. Oh, and it’s extremely user-friendly—which means your Millenial, Gen X, and Boomer attendees won’t have any issues using it, either!

To learn more about EventMobi, sign up for a free demo!