To be storied is to be celebrated, notable, acclaimed... even legendary. But how does something become storied? How does an experience become so remarkable that it spreads like wildfire, its story too impossible to ignore?
It starts with an idea. But not just any idea! An idea rooted in passion and a higher purpose. Once that idea is expressed in a creative, engaging, and emotion-evoking way (that resonates with enough people), we are well on our way to storied status.
Experiences have the potential to be the most engaging way to bring an idea to life, due to their tangible, multi-sensory nature. And yet, we often see miraculous books, movies, and shows captivate people on a deeper, more widespread level. No experience (except maybe Disneyworld) has a greater cult following than say, The Alchemist, or Game of Thrones.
Why? Why do words on a page have a seemingly greater power than a real-life experience?
Maybe it’s because storytellers have rarely viewed experiences as a storytelling medium, and the industry lacks their creative perspective.
Maybe it’s because the travel & hospitality industry hasn’t been properly trained in the art of emotional & transformational storytelling.
Maybe it’s because for a long time, our industry has focused on profits and logic over passion, purpose, emotions, and magic.
Whatever the answer is, we can see that many people in this world are ready to put the books down, turn off the TV, and start having their own novel adventures. But this means experiences hosts need to learn a thing or two from the great storytellers of the world.
Storytelling is baked into our experience design process as we integrate the creative elements of narrative development. When you work with TSE, we are always paying attention to three key narratives and how they are being told across the guest experience.
The Brand Narrative
Underlying every story is a strong theme – a central message that is woven throughout the journey. What is the point of this experience? What is the takeaway you want people to have when they join you? This is where your brand’s one-of-a-kind vision, values, and virtues come to life and your unique personality shines. To really grasp this, I like to turn to my favorite quote from the talented team at PIXAR...
The Cultural Narrative
The setting is a vital aspect of any hospitality & tourism experience – this is how your destination plays into your story. How are you painting a picture of the culture across the visitor journey? Do your touchpoints tell a story of your heritage? Do you put your own perspective and spin on it in authentic, valuable ways? Do you find ways to weave in the stories of your people and history? This is one of the greatest opportunities for rich storytelling, but we often see the efforts fall flat.
The Guest Narrative
When we pay attention to the guest narrative, we are really looking at the transformation that has the potential to occur. We are asking: What does this property/experience bring out in the guest when they’re there? Who are they becoming when they’re immersed into this experience? And what are the steppingstones along that journey – are they building to the peak moment & climax that every worthwhile story has?
Do you see all the different story elements at play? Theme, setting, plot/storyline, archetypical character exploration... it's all here. In fact, experience design has often been compared to the theater. But there's an interactive element to a hospitality & tourism experience that no play could ever mimic (unless you've been to Rocky Horror on Broadway)! This interactive quality is where we can really bring out a story's magic.