How Gen Z Can Provide a Fresh Take on the Events Scene

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Episode description

With each generation, a wave of new perspectives and ideas are ushered into the meetings and events industry. In order to keep our events fresh, it’s important to lean on that generation, and provide them with a platform to make their ideas a reality.

In this episode, Samantha Efthimiades, Planner, Meetings & Events at Cvent, joins the show to share her insights on the industry from a Gen-Z perspective. Sam believes in the vocal power of Gen-Z and encourages the fresh faces to have the courage to share their ideas with the rest of their team.Hear her thoughts on how those ideas, such as rethinking booth giveaway items, can begin to increase engagement and bring in a broader audience.

She also delves into the world of internships, sharing her experience as the head of Cvent’s Meetings and Events Internship program. Having gone through the program herself, she shares the importance of making sure that Gen-Z individuals feel like their voices are being heard. By building a connection with your interns, not only will they become more likely to speak up and share their ideas, but they’ll also begin to feel like they’re truly part of the team.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The power of a great internship program
  • How to utilize social media in events
  • How to entice Gen-Z at events

Things to listen for:

[02:19] How Gen-Z thinks about events
[04:52] Putting a Gen-Z spin on events
[10:00] Building a relationship with interns
[12:05] How interns are influencing Cvent

Meet your host

Paulina Giusti, Senior Manager of Meetings and Events, at Cvent
Alyssa Peltier, Director of Market Strategy & Insights, at Cvent

Meet your guest

Samantha Efthimiades, Planner, Meetings & Events at Cvent

Episode Transcript

Samantha Efthimiades: It's traditionally been an event that's always been an all-inclusive in either Mexico or the Dominican Republic. This year we totally switched it up. We went to Grand Cayman, not all-inclusive. We took a stab at that like stipend model to still make sure that it was white glove and our employees and our top sales leaders were taken care of.

But from the planning side of things, Also did a lot of things different, not just a location change. We took over the social media. You guys probably saw some of it. Really tried to stay on top of posting all of that. So we were creating kind of FOMO and making sure that the other Cvent-ers that were not in attendance worked really hard to get there next year.

Intro: Great events create great brands, and it takes a village to put on an event that engages, excites and connects audiences to your brand. And we're that village. I'm Alyssa. I'm Paulina. And I'm Rachel. And you're listening to great  events, the podcast for all people interested in events and marketing.

Paulina Giusti: Hi everyone. What is going on in the wide world of events? My name is Paulina and welcome to this week's episode of Great Events. Today we are going to be chatting about all things Gen Z in the world of events on your, gen Z members on your team, and we're very excited to welcome a fellow team member and Gen Z member herself, Sam Efthimiades. And Sam, why don't you say hi?

Samantha Efthimiades: Hi everyone. Glad to be back on the podcast round three.

Paulina Giusti: Round three. Oh my gosh. Welcome back. I'm also joined by co-host Alyssa

Alyssa Peltier: Hey, what's up guys? Yeah, my slick hair, my Gen Z hair, even though I am full millennial over.

Samantha Efthimiades: You're rocking it.

Paulina Giusti: Yeah. So before we get into the conversation, I just want to baseline for people listening in because I had to Google it myself. Who are members of the millennial generation who are members of the Gen Z generation, and so confirmed. The millennials were born in between 1981 and 1996, and the Gen Z generation is between 1997 and 2012.

So just as you frame up today's conversation, those are the years that we're thinking about here and we really we invited our Gen Z event professional, Sam to give us a window into how she thinks about events. She, in addition to overseeing a variety of event programs for us, she also manages our pretty rigorous internship program.

And she's really been able to modify and adjust the program to accommodate a whole new generation of learning and behavior. And I just feel like there's a lot of goodness that we can unpack today. Let's start with Sam, as a member of Gen Z, but working really closely with millennials and elder millennials like myself.

What are different ways that you think about events? Are you thinking about them in a completely different perspective? Are you thinking, here are the bones of the event and this is what I'm going to do to make it different or more appealing to multiple generations? Talk us through that. Maybe give us an example if you got one.

Samantha Efthimiades: Yeah, I think. The way I take on events is okay, I have really good bones of what my millennial or elder millennial team has taught me. And I realize like those are things that are the basics, like basic things for each event that need to be executed properly. But my Gen Z in me is thinking about those extras too.

Kind of what can we do on social media to ensure that this is like getting the most attention? What are the giveaways that people actually want? Like they don't want a pen in a notebook anymore. Maybe they want a sling bag or like a fanny pack. So just making sure that we're keeping those new up and coming trends in mind. Not that every event planner doesn't do that, but I just try and keep in mind like, is this going to be impactful for every generation that's attending the event? So being in the middle of those two kind of groups as like a 97

Alyssa Peltier: Baby

Samantha Efthimiades: Yeah.

Alyssa Peltier: 97 baby.

Samantha Efthimiades: As a 97 baby I just try and keep everybody in mind to make sure that I'm hitting home for everybody.

Paulina Giusti: Yeah, so you just are off the heels of a massive, a really fun internal event. We call it our Business Leaders Retreat. Other companies might think of it as their president's club, their top 100 club. It's really to celebrate our sales leaders and, over the past few years we've thought about re-imagining this program and we haven't necessarily been able to shift, make major shifts to the program, and you were able to do that this year.

And I think part of it is a reflection of the changing demographic of people attending it. There's new demographics that are arising in this group of individuals. You've got elder millennials, but you've got a lot of Gen Z members who are participating in this trip, and I'd love to hear some of the decisions made around this program and fundamental changes that you think yielded it.

Because I have to caveat, we talked about this I think a year ago, right when you were on the podcast, but it was unbelievable feedback. Amazing gold stars, five stars. Everyone is still reeling about how memorable and amazing the event was, and I think a lot of it has to do with some of the decisions you made to cater to those unique groups.

Samantha Efthimiades: Yeah, so last year was great, but like you said, we got to turn it on its head. It's traditionally been an event that's always been an all-inclusive in either Mexico or the Dominican Republic. This year we totally switched it up. We went to Grand Cayman, not all-inclusive. We took a stab at that like stipend model to still make sure that it was white glove and our employees and our top sales leaders were taken care of.

But from the planning side of things, Also did a lot of things different, not just a location change. Couple examples we instead of hiring a videographer and a photographer, everybody takes pictures on their phones. We really wanted to just get a videographer that nailed it on the recap video and captured all those fun moments that people forget about or you're dancing in the crowd. You're not worrying about like how cool it looks that the whole dance floor is filled up with you and all of your colleagues and your guests. So we wanted to capture all of those fun moments and do a really great sizzle reel for next year that'll get people excited and build FOMO to make the next trip.

So that was a big one for us. We took over the social media. You guys probably saw some of it. Really tried to stay on top of posting all of that. So we were creating kind of FOMO and making sure that the other Cventers that were not in attendance worked really hard to get there next year. And then I think we just like switched other things up swag wise, like we always do a nice giveaway.

I was really worried that people were going to miss the Maui gym activation that we always have done and I didn't get one single comment about it. We took a different look at swag. My generation, we don't buy expensive sunglasses. We buy them off Amazon. And we have the cheapy pairs that we're

Alyssa Peltier: Not yet.

Samantha Efthimiades: With every different outfit. We have a cheap pair of sunglasses to go with it. So I was like, now gems maybe aren't necessary. Let's do a Stanley Cub or a Yeti, which is what we did. And it went over great. People had them floating in the pool in the ocean with them. But yeah, I just.

I think it was a nice opportunity to shake things up and like you said, different demographic different planning for

Alyssa Peltier: I find interesting, Sam, is like who you're catering to or who you're building this experience is predominantly made up of millennials and probably Gen Xers, right? But you're taking what you know to be of trending within the Gen Z space and applying those to, I would say the older audiences.

So like keeping everything hip through what's current in kind of the younger leading trendy generation, which I think is really interesting, right? It's not that you're building this for Gen Z, although certainly there are some Gen Zs in the mix too, but it's leaning into what you know to be true is popular and kinda what's the what's trending thing, what's trending. It's always like the most, the youngest generation that's leading the charge on that.

Paulina Giusti: I feel like we have a responsibility do to do that as event planners, right? We're all about creating these connected experiences and connecting communities, and if we're not introducing, the older generations to what's hip and fun and exciting right now, it's going to be hard for them to make some of those connections on their own. And so why the heck not

Alyssa Peltier: And it doesn't have to be so literal as we're going to be making TikToks all week. Like that's the, it's, that's very cheesy. I don't, maybe we would say cheugy. I don't know. Is that even is it cheugy to say cheugy now? I don't even know. I can't keep up. It is cheugy to say cheugy. Okay, cool. Nailed it on this podcast.

Samantha Efthimiades: Yeah, no, I think taking cues from like the audience and giving a certain amount of freshness with also that traditional, what they expect in meeting those expectations. I just feel like we brought a good mix together and everybody was pretty happy with it. 

Paulina Giusti: Love that. Okay. Let's shift gears here a little bit and less on the event attendee event side of things, and more on, thinking about teams, right? The workforce is changing. A number of Gen Z Members of the workforce are having their first experience with jobs.

Many of these members perhaps were in school still and attending virtually, maybe their first career opportunity was a virtual work experience. And just so our listeners can understand, Sam does oversee, like I said, our pretty rigorous meetings and events team internship program and that was built 10 years ago and so much has changed across the industry, across the way our team is organized, but notably expectations have changed as well.

And I think Sam maybe just share a couple quick things that you've observed in terms of, guiding and really mentoring, some of our latest members of the Gen Z internship program and offer any thoughts that our listeners might appreciate.

Samantha Efthimiades: Yeah, so I actually went through this internship program back in the day, but like Paulina said, like that experience I had was created by a millennial, and that was five years ago at this point. We've had a huge shift in not only just, oh, the new generation coming in, but most of them graduated virtually and their first internship perhaps was virtual.

Maybe they've never been in an office environment before. We still find a lot of value in having our interns in the office. But, we had to adapt and make sure that we changed the program to accommodate a hybrid schedule while still giving them some in-office experience. So they can have that under their professional belt. And then also there's plenty of things that they can help us with at home. So I think the virtual thing was a nice shift because we don't need them in the office every single day. But the trainings also are taking a lot longer because if they walk over to my desk, I can show them one thing and be like, okay, good, go do it. And now I'm sitting on hour long calls each week just making sure they're trained on event technology and how to do like basic outlook things, FedEx things, whatever it is. So I just feel like trainings have been a little bit of a shift, not being in the office all the time has been a shift, and we just had to rethink how we show these interns, like what Cvent is all about. I would say that's the biggest shifts

Alyssa Peltier: a follow up question to that, Sam. Are you finding that they're influencing what Cvent should be? Like we're in this kind of paradigm shift in workplace culture where we're open to new ideas and restructuring how we work. And I'd be curious, Paulina, even to hear your perspective on that too, as the leader of the program, but I'm curious, Sam, if you're getting feedback that's Hey, we don't, that doesn't make sense for us. How are they pushing the limits?

Samantha Efthimiades: Yeah, I mean at Cvent, I think we're really good about welcoming all the fresh voices and the new ideas in the room, and I just have to make sure that I am, telling the interns like, hi, you came in and I told you to do it this way. But it's always a recommendation, if you have an on how to do it in a more efficient way or manner, like absolutely let me know that.

And I feel like interns are sometimes worried to come at you with a recommendation. But at Cvent and like me personally, I'm always open to, let's figure out the best way to do it. I don't care if it came from my brain or your brain. So I think, there Gen Z is like known for being a little bit more vocal. And I just want to make sure that I'm really welcoming that from the interns as well.

Paulina Giusti: Yeah, Sam does a great job of ensuring all of our interns have a voice and gets them exposure to a variety of projects, right? It's not all admin work. And it's not all glamorous events. It's a lot of, there's a lot of mix between the two. But we do strive to ensure that people who do participate in the program get a full spectrum of experience and within that experience are able to put their own personal touch or perspective into, navigating it or completing those tasks at hand. I think one thing that's interesting and one intern is standing out, I'm not going to call her out by name, but I was struggling to find time to think about cool activations for a European customer event that we were doing.

And she raised her hand and was like, I'm happy to help. I love the concept of getting into customer marketing. She obviously wanted to be a part of events, but customer marketing was a big interest of hers. And this was at the time of, we were still working completely remotely and she started creating digital postcards.

And so if you can just think about like when you attend an event, you're stepping away from your family, you're stepping away from your routine, and it was a really cute sort of, I guess digital tangible that she thought about. And obviously it was very reflective of the Gen Z generation, very social focused, visual focused, but also very personal.

And I just felt like it was a great example of how that reflected both her as a member of Gen Z, but also a creative opportunity for her to contribute to an experience. And it just stands out. That was, two years ago, a year and a half ago and that, that small idea and hand raising moment was pretty impactful.

So I think, for those listening in and as you are thinking about your internship programs or welcoming new team members to your team, let them speak up. You've got great ideas. It's always fun to invigorate some of our tenured programs and think about, what's new that perhaps a new generation has a fresh perspective on?

This is a quick up. We just wanted to chat through some of the fun topics that are related to Gen Z. Anything else? Sam, as a member of the esteemed generation, gen Z that you want to leave our listeners with?

Samantha Efthimiades: I don't know. I feel like I'm elder Gen Z, but I just feel like it's nice to be in my position where I can bring a little bit of new fresh energy and ideas and try and keep us on trend as like the resident young person or whatever. Yeah, I've been called that a lot, but.

Alyssa Peltier: I think part of that too is the openness of the team. The openness of just like creating that environment like you guys were talking about for feedback from somebody who is more junior in their career, or certainly younger in age. So there's, there can sometimes be an intimidation factor that is, that's a barrier to get that inspiration, to get those no new ideas.

But I think fostering that creative environment per se is really what's going to push the boundary for event programs. And I think some of those most vocal, more innovative ideas could come from that younger generation. So from a leader standpoint, I think it is really important to embrace the younger generations.

You probably hear that on all of these types of generational podcasts or webinars or sessions that you sit in at events. And I think we're saying the same thing, right? That, that like just creating that environment of openness is going to. It's what fuels new event programs.

Paulina Giusti: Exactly. Awesome. Anything else, Sam, before we let you go?

Samantha Efthimiades: I think that's it. Thanks for having me guys.

Paulina Giusti: Awesome. Thanks Sam for joining and thanks Alyssa for joining this podcast today. To our listeners send us a LinkedIn message, a direct message or an email at greatevents@cvent.com. If you have any ideas for topics or special guests as always, we're happy to take any of your advice or ideas.

And until next time, thanks for tuning into Great Events