The Experience Economy

Event and meeting planners take note. A recent Eventbrite report found that three out of four U.S. Millennials prefer to spend their money on live experiences rather than material goods. They’re calling this the new “experience economy”.

Creative Challenge

What exactly is this “experience economy”? What exactly do millennials mean by “experiences”? What does this new “experience economy” portend for our industry? How must planners react to another new market impulse? What are event planners already doing to convert “meetings” and “events” into “experiences”?

Amazing Event Experiences

We looked around the industry to see what the “early implementers” were doing to convert traditional lectures, learning, and networking into interactive experiences. We found the following examples of traditional meeting formats being converted into powerful “experiences”. If you don’t already clearly understand the concept, I think you will find the following examples enlightening.

  1. Underground Lectures – Imagine a lecture on urban renewal held in an abandoned factory in suburban Detroit. This technique of infusing the lecture space into the learning module is a powerful way to convert two-dimensional lecture content into a three-dimensional learning “experience”.
  2. Participation Movies – Allow participants to dive into a world where they co-create the experience by interacting with on-screen characters. The venue is designed to match the film set creating an immersive three-dimensional experience.
  3. On Demand Q&A – To boost the delegates’ “learning “experience” at a recent event, Startup Grind set up a separate stage focused exclusively on Q&A. Following speaker presentations, delegates submitted their questions through Slido. The speakers then answered the questions during 30-minute interactive “Ask Me Anything” sessions.
  4. Participants Setting the Agenda – What better way to make your event an interactive “experience” than by giving attendees the full power to co-create the agenda at the start. As BarCamp co-founder Ryan King put it, usually “there is much more expertise in the audience than there possibly could be on stage.” In this interactive “experience” organizers enabled delegates to propose sessions they wanted to see through Slido’s live Q&A feature. The organizers then selected the sessions delegates wanted to see the most thereby converting lectures into personalized speaker presentation “experiences” .
  5. PechaKucha – PechaKucha is a simple presentation format where speakers talk along to automatically advancing images. Twenty images are presented, for 20 seconds each. These events usually involve a series of eight to fifteen short standup talks. It’s is an opportunity to see “elevator pitches” by the creatives, students, researchers, or startups that want to spread their ideas.
  6. Hackathons – These coding, brainstorming and editing marathons usually bring people from the same field together to collaborate on a specific project. They can last from one day to a whole week. Such events always have a tangible goal that they strive to achieve.

Summary

The examples above are by no means all-inclusive. I selected them to give you a taste of what The Experience Economy is all about. Over the next two or three years our creativity will be challenged as one generation gives way to the next. Planners must learn what will communicate with and motivate a new generation of audiences. We will do our best to pass creative developments along as soon as we become aware of them. The rest is up to you.

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