Joseph Pine and James Gilmore coined the term “the experience economy” in the late 1990s to describe an environment where businesses differentiate themselves by focusing on the feelings their services or products create beyond the services and products themselves. Pine and Gilmore fired up the discussion of the importance of event experiences, pushing organizations to design emotion-rich meetings that could define their brand, engage and retain customers, build employee loyalty, and motivate.
So, while the drive to design memorable, personal, absorbing meetings isn’t new, today’s business environment escalates the urgency of creating experiential, meaningful meetings.
To start, with attendees now comfortable accomplishing educational and transactional meetings online, in-person events must deliver interaction, context, and opportunity that outweighs the time and expense of travel. Second, the unprecedented growth of home-office workers makes in-person meetings increasingly critical for building company culture and team relationships. And third, attendees are still suffering from a dearth of professional contact after the pandemic. Networking needs to be a priority that transcends coffee breaks and cocktail parties.
While budget building, supplier selection and negotiations, and back-end meeting technology are as important as ever for planners to get right, the importance of designing meeting experiences that serve the company’s goals, such as motivating and retaining employees, can’t be overstated.
In this article, Gilmore talks about the “Four-E Model” of experience design—education, entertainment, esthetic, and escapism.
In the cover story for our January/February issue of the MeetingsNet magazine, Rob Carey writes about five meeting formats that help attendee communication flow more freely than it does within traditional event design. By fostering participation and sharing, conference education becomes an active experience that attendees are likely to remember, even crave, rather than a passive transfer of knowledge from the stage to the audience.
For meeting experiences in Gilmore’s other realms, entertainment, esthetics, and escapism, let me introduce a new MeetingsNet collaboration: In 2023, for the first time, MeetingsNet is a content partner for Catersource + The Special Event, a conference that spotlights the ideas, entertainers, F&B, and speakers meant to wow an audience.
The event, happening March 27 to 30 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, will have special-event-specific education, various showcase events, and an interactive trade-show floor, as well as a full track of meetings-focused sessions on topics like experiential marketing, negotiating with speakers, innovative meeting room set-ups, and risk management.
Catersource + The Special Event is an exciting addition to the MeetingsNet portfolio of meeting-planner information and education resources. It will be an experience! I hope to see you there.