• 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.”

The times they are a-changing, and that has never been truer than when it comes to selecting an A/V partner and deciding whether the in- house A/V vendor or an outside third-party provider is the right partner for you. Due to advancements in technology, lighting and other A/V equipment that has come down in price, planners are now finding op- portunities to use previously out of budget technology with a much more palatable price tag. 


Retreats and off-site meetings present wonderful opportunities for groups to collaborate, strategize and build relationships away from their normal office environments. With proper planning, these sessions can be highly effective and even pivotal in setting a new direction. However, off-sites may present some unforeseen challenges that can quickly deflate the energy in the room if not anticipated and addressed in advance.


Landing a big-name keynote speaker can be a significant part of your conference budget. That person should add credibility to the event and hopefully boost attendance. But if your speakers just deliver canned presentations before making a quick exit for the airport, you and your attendees are missing the full value they can bring to an event. With some extra planning, you can help set up the speaker and your event for success.