We sat down with the co-author of The Experience Economy, Joseph Pine, to get his take on trends happening in the meetings and events industry. Adding experiential elements to enhance face-to-face gatherings is nothing new, but it’s not going away either.
Creative Group (CG): Our vision at Creative Group is to be creators of business changing experiences that help people thrive. What do you see impacting this in the future?
Joseph Pine (JP): One of the things we didn’t emphasize in the writing of The Experience Economy is how important experiences are and how they apply just as much in a B2B context as with B2C. I think Creative Group has a very forward-thinking vision, one that could even move it beyond staging experiences to guiding transformations, the fifth and final economic offering in our progression of economic value. Many businesses are naturally in the transformation business, such as management consultants, fitness experts, and hospitals, but it’s great to see other organizations embracing this concept as well.
CG: We’ve see some trends emerging in the meeting and event industry, can you comment on them? Do you believe they exist due to the Experience Economy?
– Passive attendees are now active participants and expect to be fully immersed. If not, they feel like their time has been wasted.
JP: That’s how my partner, Jim Gilmore, and I have approached our own thinkAbout conference* since it began in 1998. It’s an event that brings together a diverse group of executives, managers, designers, trainers, and consultants who explore, share, interact, and network with others leading the way in the Experience Economy. When you stop thinking about guests as attendees, and start thinking of them as participants as we do, it’s easy to see how impactful co-creation can become to such events. Sometimes organizers think they just need to entertain people, but that’s a passive experience. Making the people who come, active participants makes it more educational.
One important consideration to keep in mind though, is that not everyone is ready to put in the effort full immersion requires. In a few of our earlier years at thinkAbout, we discovered some people who were not ready for this type of event; it turned out that invariably they were sent by their boss, rather than self-selecting to come. We learned to prime the participants for the experience — which we do with our pre-event communications such as the invitation and the registration kit – to avoid them zoning out.
– A multidisciplinary approach to conference content
TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design is the grandfather of this type of approach. It really ups the intensity and ultimately hits the sweet spot of an experience. To the entertainment and educational realms of experience, it adds esthetic – a place you can just hang out and be – and escapist – an event that alters your reality.
– Personalization via gifts, apps, beacon technology
Personalization is a cosmetic form of customization. When you create experiences, you are reaching inside of people and engaging them, because experiences are inherently personal. Customization can be a great way to do that.
Just because the proper term to use with experiences is “staging,” doesn’t mean everything needs to be planned out and nailed down in advance. You need to leave room for participant input – the best knowledge in the room is not always on the stage.
– AR/VR/Mixed Reality
Digital technology gives you superpowers. I wrote about experiences that fuse the real and the virtual in my book Infinite Possibility. You’ll see more and more of this happening over time, especially as live experiences become more commoditized. I’m just waiting for the occasion when I can’t make it physically to a speaking appearance and have to send my robot. I’ll be there in tech and in spirit!
CG: You’ve been talking about the Experience Economy for decades; why do you think it is still so prevalent today?
JP: The shift to experience staging is growing and will continue to grow because it’s not a fad; it’s a fundamental change in the very fabric of the economy. New economic value and new innovation comes increasingly from experiences. And research is backing it up, such as all the studies over the past decade that show that people are happier when they spend money on experiences than on material things.
CG: Why do you feel millennials value experiences over material things? Will this continue? Will/do other generations feel the same?
JP: Millennials are the first generation that has grown up in the Experience Economy. They’ve absorbed it as part of their entire being – but every generation values experiences over things.
If you are interested in learning more about the Experience Economy and how it applies to meetings and events, check out our white paper: Creating the Ultimate Experience. For more on trends, don’t miss our newest white paper: 2017 MEETING AND EVENT TRENDS. You’ll learn more about co-creation, convergence, diversity and more Are impacting meeting formats, audiences and content. Want even more insights? Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter: Subscribe Here.
*Strategic Horizon’s thinkAbout Conference is celebrating its 20th anniversary event in Cleveland September 27-28, 2017. You can learn more here.