How are Generation Y shaping the Events Industry?

Millennials, Y Generation, Echo boomers… Known for taking a “selfie”.

Born between 1980- 2000 and children of Generation X (born 1965-1979); said to be the future leaders of businesses across the globe. There are over 13.8 million people who make up Generation Y in the UK (The Guardian, 2016)

They are unsurprisingly shaped by technology, with some making millions from it. Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in 2004, which now has 1.581 billion active users. Many people are becoming millionaires under the age of 20. This is due to access to the internet and the exposure to many people at their fingertips. (Boitnott, 2014)


The internet went public in 1989 with text only browsers, in 2000 when e-commerce took hold it went ‘mainstream’ with the introduction of social media and online shopping. The Y Generation have been brought up alongside technology and the internet, learning more and at a faster pace than those that invented it.  

Generation Y are keen on making a change and according to Sarah Slack (2015), 61% feel personally responsible to make a difference in the world. Therefore, many events and festivals now try to incorporate this change to try and make a difference together.


Glastonbury festival started up in 1970, 2 days after the death of Jimi Hendrix. It was a sell out that attracted 1,500 people. Admission was £1 which included fresh milk from the farm. In 1980 the festival had grown with a capacity of 18,000 and tickets for sale at £8 each. By 2000, the internet had been introduced making advertising a lot easier. The capacity had increased dramatically to 100,000 people due to popular demand and tickets were £87 including a programme. After the craze of social networking sites, the word got around even more and trends were being set. Social media created a buzz for the upcoming festivals, allowing attendees to become more involved in the build up to the event and share their experiences after the event has taken place. In 2015 there were 177,000 attendees and a ticket price of £220. The festival now supports Greenpeace, WaterAid, Oxfam and other worthwhile causes. When Glastonbury started in 1970 it did not support any charitable causes.

Many events like Glastonbury have evolved from traditional rationale to meet the modern festival- goers needs. This change has occurred due to the marketing and entertainment becoming a brand and has been a result of the growth of social networking sites (Zhang et al, 2010).

The Innocent Unplugged Festival was launched in 2015, it takes place at a secret location in Kent each year. The festival relies on solar- powered electricity and has no 3G or WiFi. There are many group activities and opportunities for attendees to interact and get to know each other. Postcards can be sent and all food is locally sourced and served banquet style for attendees to enjoy the social element. This festival was a huge hit, especially with those in the age range of Generation Y. At this festival, they felt like they were personally making a difference to the environment. Feedback also pointed out that they loved to participate in the activities and enjoyed the personal service they received from staff. These are key elements that Generation Y thrive for per Sarah Slack’s checklist (2015).


By 2028 Generation Y will make up three- quarters of the work force, the boomers will near enough be retired and the workplace would have gone through some change. (TALENTEGG, 2017) From carrying out some research into Generation Y and how they have been influenced these are the five changes I can see may happen…

  1. More women will take management positions. Generation Y have seen both parents work so will be prepared to enter the workforce.
  2. Management styles will become more relaxed, office spaces will be open- plan and workers will be encouraged to collaborate.
  3. People will seek more than just what the business offers. They will consider their ethical stance to ensure they can be trusted and are happy to pursue.
  4. The internet will take over. Research into prices and reviews will take place before any purchase, making it a lot harder for the business to entice the customer.
  5. Those working in sales should change their tactics. Generation Y do not like to be sold anything. They like to make an informed choice for themselves.

 Unsurprisingly, being in the Generation Y myself, I agree with these characteristics and can also see these changes happening. Although I am undecided if it is really Generation Y beginning to shape the industry or if the internet is actually leading the way?


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