The Experience Economy
The Experience Economy is a new stage of economic offering. Experiences are a distinct offering from services. Experiences must provide a memorable offering that will remain with one for a long time, but in order to achieve this, the consumer must be drawn into the offering such that they feel a sensation. And to feel the sensation, the guest must actively participate. This requires highly skilled actors who can dynamically personalise each event according to the needs, the response and the behavioural traits of the guests….
At first sight it appears that experiences have an affinity with the entertainment and leisure industries. Walt Disney's Theme Parks, a visit to a West End Theatre, an out-door adventure play ground, or a theme restaurant like Benihana. There is no doubt that the entertainment industry has acquired the skills and talents for engaging people, but now other industries have realised that many such facets can transform a vanilla "me too" service into a memorable event that the customer will want to repeat again and will want to recount to all their friends.
The Four Realms of an Experience
Joseph Pine and James Gilmore have identified four types of experiences (look the picture above), with the riches being those offerings that combine all 4.
When offering experiences it is possible that different customers will be looking for different experiences even when the base goods or service may be the same. Getting it wrong and offering the wrong experience is likely to be disastrous.
Similarly the depth of required of experience will vary depending not just on the personal characteristics of the customer (guest) but also on the depth of the relationship and the place where it takes place.
When designing and delivering experience you should aim to:
The sweet spot for any compelling experience—incorporating entertainment, educational, escapist, and esthetic elements into otherwise generic space—is similarly a mnemonic place, a tool aiding in the creation of memories, distinct from the normally uneventful world of goods and services. Its very design invites you to enter, and to return again and again. Its space is layered with amenities—props—that correspond with the way the space is used, and it is rid of any features that do not follow this function. Engaging experiences bring these four realms together in compelling ways.
We've already mentioned edutainment as one combination of realms aimed at achieving a certain experiential aim: Education + Entertainment.
Consider, too, the five other dimensions of an engaging experience that emerge from combining realms:
Eduscapist = Education + Escapist (changing context)
Edustethic = Education + Esthetic (fostering appreciation)
Escasthetic = Escapist + Esthetic (altering state)
Entersthetic = Entertainment + Esthetic (having presence)
Escatainment = Escapist + Entertainment (creating catharsis)
The terms vary in how trippingly they fall from the tongue (although edutainment flows smoothly, primarily through familiarity and repetition), but each maps out rich territory for understanding how to set the stage for compelling experiences.32 Holding attention, changing context, fostering appreciation, altering states, having presence, and creating catharsis—these lie at the heart of orchestrating compelling theatrical performances. When every business is a stage, these states need to be mastered.
Beyond Experiences - Transformations
Experiences aren't the ultimate form of economic offering. Pine and Gilmore have identified a fifth stage:Transformations. Whilst experiences do provide sensations and a memorable event these do wear off with time. Transformations on the other hand make a permanent beneficial change to the customer. A sick person become well in body and mind, a dying company is turned-around, and a customer habitually spending beyond his or her means achieves financial viability and stability. Whilst experiences are memorable and are sustained for a time, transformations are inspirational and must be sustained through time.
»Ich ziehe vor, die Menschen freudvoll zu unterhalten in der Hoffnung, dass sie dabei
etwas lernen, als ihnen etwas zu lehren mit der Gefahr, dass es sie langweilt." (Walt Disney)