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2020, A Golden Era For ‘Experience Designers’?

Updated: Jan 19

We are living in a world where people are spending more money, and investing time on experiences over products. And as event providers, we know we are in the experience business. So what is our opportunity in 2020? And what do we need to do to take advantage of this

We all live in the Experiential world

You may have heard the term “Experience Economy” which was developed by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, basically meaning that the economy we have today is based on experiential relationships (not the product or services based economies of the past).

‘Experiences are the new luxury good’ – Will Dean, founder Tough Mudder

An example – the evolution of the birthday cake

In explaining this evolution, pioneering ‘Design Thinker’ Tom Kelley spoke of how in the ‘commodity-orientated economy, Mum bought the flour, sugar and eggs, adding all the labour herself to bake and ice the cake. The next evolutionary step – a product economy – had people buying Betty Crocker cake mix and a can of icing. In the service economy, the cake was made in a bakery, and then they would even put your child’s name on it. But in today’s experience economy, you take Jack and his friends to the local Playcentre where they are provided with active play, food, drinks, and-oh, by the way – the birthday cake at the end!’ This is now the expectation in the world we live in today.

I think we can recognise this example in many industries, where we have seen a shift in a desire for experiences over ownership. So the basic argument I am making is that companies that orchestrate engaging interactions for their customers, beyond mere goods and services, are the ones that meet expectations and develop meaningful customer relationships.

“a staggering 74% of Americans prioritize experiences over products” – Forbes

The leading brands in our world have recognised this, and are the ones that are winning our hearts, minds, and our loyalty.

So is this our ‘Goldrush’?

This shift in spending on experiences over products or services may all lead to a golden era for event providers, but you need to be thinking and working in the right way, to seize this opportunity.

Designing (and the delivery) of event experiences in today’s world requires intentional evidence-based – design-led processes, to take your fans and participants through the ideal experiences. The ideal experience for them, and for you. So that they achieve their expectations, and you deliver to yours. 


Events as Experiences

Events do involve products and services, but they are not passively consumed in isolation. Yes, they buy the gear to wear, they eat and drink, use the facilities, our content and apps, but they should also interact, watch, talk, listen, shout and dance. Sometimes, all those things. Events require people to involve themselves in their experiences, they have to attend, and engage.

For example sports event consumers are participants, not just customers. They actively participate and contribute to the experience. It is a 2-way relationship, between you the provider, and the fan. Not just provision of a product or service. Therefore, it needs to be treated differently. 

The event serves the fan/participant, and the fan/participant serves the event. 

The relationship we have with our ‘customers’ is different. A spectator’s presence and activity contribute to the event, and a participant’s involvement actually creates the event itself. As Fans we often believe the more, we invest in the experience the more influence we can have on the outcomes! And the more they feel this the better it is for them, and for you. So, we should intentionally encourage and facilitate this investment!

The point is that it is not just about product, service or brand anymore, it is about the experience you provide, that creates the relationship you have.

Experience Design in the Experience Economy

In the coming weeks, I will take you on our own journey in Experience Design. Some ideas and methods to design event experiences, from start, to finish.

I hope it provides value to you, whether you are creating, or recreating your events. And if you know someone else who might value this, I’m sure we would both appreciate you sharing it!



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