• The 'Experience Economy' is Back

     
    FROM THE Summer 2016 ISSUE
     

    How to reap the rewards to make it really pay off.

With the growing demand for face-to-face meetings, it is also quite evident that attendees are again expecting an “experience” beyond just content. Unlike past years when scaled-down programs were acceptable, participants now have a higher level of expectation for their meetings, and are again seeking a format that is motivating, rich and compelling.

Yes, the “Experience Economy” is back! So, what does this mean?

Quality in presentation, venue and style are very important in order to provide the greatest impact, to make programs more memorable and to differentiate your organization from others.

As James H. Gilmore, co-author with B. Joseph Pine II of the best-selling book The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage, once described to our ALHI team, the “Experience Economy” applies to the meetings marketplace in many areas. This includes the quality of the facilities, the level of service, the food, the presentations and the available recreational options.

Gilmore gives many helpful tips for meeting professionals to address the desires of attendees in an “Experience Economy.” This includes “focusing on the 4 E’s,” or providing an Escapist experience, offering Educational/Learning opportunities, featuring appealing Esthetics and providing memorable Entertainment.

He also recommends choosing memorable locations and incorporating “the 4 I’s”: Ideas, Insight, Innovation and Inspiration.

While accommodating the higher expectations of attendees in an “Experience Economy” may present some challenges for meeting professionals, providing a rich experience at your meetings can reap the greatest reward for your attendees and your organization.

Recent behavioral science and psychology research by Cornell University Psychology Professor Dr. Thomas Gilovich has shown that experiences provide greater/more enduring happiness than acquired possessions. Experiences such as memorable incentive travel programs and inspiring meetings “become an ingrained part of our identity and are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” according to Gilovich as described by author Jay Cassano on Fast Company’s website FastCompany.com.

Shared experiences provide fond (often lifelong) memories and connect people to others much more so than bonding with someone who has the same possessions.

With so many appealing choices available in Illinois, meeting professionals have an array of fantastic options, which can meet or exceed the expectations of attendees in an “Experience Economy.”

There aren’t enough dysphemisms in the English language for 2020. The good news is that the light at the end of the tunnel is coming in 2021, but we still expect to see conferences continue in virtual or hybrid environments. I can safely say that we miss the human element, such as socializing and networking, but I want to acknowledge that there are benefits to virtual.

According to a recent survey by Bizzabo, nearly two-thirds of event marketers believe tools to engage virtual attendees will play a key role in 2021.

 

With restrictions across the country in a state of constant flux, not everyone is ready to jump back into meeting in person. While some planners are eager to get back to “normal,” the long-term adjustment to new protocols and potential risks make some hesitant to gather.

While wearing masks and social distancing can help keep attendees safe, intentional design choices—such as including natureinspired elements and materials and plenty of plants—can also help calm attendees.

 

With executive orders and restrictions across the country in a state of constant flux, not everyone is ready to jump back into meeting in person. While some planners are eager to get back to “normal,” the long-term adjustment to new meeting protocols and potential risks make some hesitant to gather.

While wearing masks and social distancing can help keep attendees safe, intentional design choices—such as including nature-inspired elements and materials and plenty of plants—can also help to calm attendees.