Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Moving from "Event" to "Experience"

Why am I having such a hard time starting to write the three blog articles that I promised myself weeks ago to write. I wish I knew. What topics to write about. Its easy when I'm driving in the car to come up with lots of great ideas. They all dry up when I actually sit down to the keyboard.

So what am I writing about tonight...

Lets start with "The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage" by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore. To be honest, I've had a copy of this book sitting on my shelf for about 10 years. I had only read a few dozen pages and then my ADHD kicked in and I lost track of it. As I've been in the process of moving, I have a huge stack of the books that wanted to have readily available between now and the actual move. I grabbed the Experience Economy last week since I knew it needed to be read. After a few pages, I’m thinking to myself what was I thinking when I last put it down. There’s some great stuff here. If you're in the festivals and events business or in retail you need to read this book today. Run, do not walk to your nearest library or bookstore to get a copy.

In a nutshell, Pine and Gilmore suggest that the next great age or economy will be built around Experiences. Guess what festival and event producers, you are at ground zero. That’s what we have been doing for years.

Ponder this - How does your festival or event differentiate itself from all of the other entertainment attractions in your community? Why would a guest choose to attend your event over an evening at the movies or having dinner with friends? If business is theater, what’s your cast up to that makes guests want to return again and again, and spend more money in the process.

Note the use of the terms, guest and cast, there’s a great point made in “Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service” by Ted Kinni and the folks at Disney Institute. A “guest” is someone whom we’ve invite into our home. That’s a lot different than the term “customer” which is often a faceless statistic. Which one are we more likely to want to develop a long term relationship with.

In an ideal world people leave their everyday lives behind when they walk through the gates of our events. Are we creating a new reality for them to escape into? Hopefully the answer is a resounding yes!

With that in mind, have you ever considered that your staff and volunteers, the public faces of your events, are indeed the “cast” that sell our (production/event). Like a theatrical production how do they move the story/experience along. What’s their role in our pageant? Are they in character when they’re on stage (where guests can see them) or do they distract.

Here’s the bottom line: When we create great experiences, we build great memories, we build great communities, fans and loyal paying customers. And we make a lot more money in the process.

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