Everywhere I turn these days, a business somewhere is shifting to the Experience Economy. Companies that once exclusively sold products or services are adding new levels to their offerings that can only be described as experiential in nature. These companies have come to realize that in a marketplace where products and services have become commoditized and subsequently compete on price, adding experience options to their offerings only makes sense.
Case-in-point Number 1: AirBnB’s Become An Experience Host
Having already turned the hospitality industry on its head by putting guests and individual homeowners together for accommodation bookings, AirBnB now offers guests the option to book an experience with a host provider. So with that room, flat or house you book, you can add an adventure, like learning how to cut and sew their own pocket square in a private Harlem fashion studio or drafting a TV screenplay in a writer’s yurt in Topanga Canyon.
Case-in-point Number 2: Cadillac’s Book service
Cadillac is going all Netflix on us. Realizing that there is a large consumer population out there that doesn’t want to own a Caddy but simply wants to drive one for a while, they are offering a $1500 monthly no-contract offering that lets you order up the current-year model of your choice and keep changing models as often as 18 times a year. No need to buy or store winter tires, no service calls, no mileage caps; insurance, maintenance, and detailing are all part of the deal, and the car is delivered to you via concierge. Is it more expensive than the depreciating price of owning a Cadillac? Heck, yeah. But in the Experience Economy, when something is valued for its personal fit, for its capacity to reflect how you see yourself and make your choices, price is not the issue (unless it really is, in which case this service is not for you).
Case-in-point Number 3: Starwood’s Preferred Guest Moments
Starwood Hotels allows its preferred guests to redeem their Starpoints for musical, sports and cultural adventures, such as red carpet premieres, behind-the-scenes tours of a live TV taping, cooking demos at premiere culinary festivals and the like. Why spend your reward points on room upgrades and extra nights when you can sail the Norwegian coast with Lindblad Tours?
What About Me?
How do these very disparate experiences apply to what you do? By reinforcing the message that what people find memorable are experiences that are unusual, that are separate from what they’ve come to expect from you. Continue to be excellent with what you do. Continue to provide superb service. Just remember that your excellent service is subject to commoditization and that if you truly want to make an impact that will resonate for a long time with your clients, you must add experiences.
Perhaps that means hosting your meetings in a microbrewery where guests can also be given a tour afterwards. Or an art gallery. Perhaps that means taking shareholders of a start-up into the offices of that company where they can see first-hand how staff luncheons are culinary events built around a cultural theme. Perhaps by organizing events for clients with like-minded interests hosted by a wild-life photography expert. Perhaps you’ve a client who’s an expert and, like AirBnB, can help you host an adventure. Innovation creates innovation. The point is to start.
Because by starting, you shift.