Every year (like we recommend to our clients) we sit down with our own values and vision for The Storied Experience. In 2022, we are narrowing in on two key themes: slow & enriching. As we look out at the state of the world, this is what we believe hospitality and tourism hosts need to focus on as they build out their experience.
Recently as we were walking through our process with prospective clients, we realized it might be helpful to show our readers & followers a visual representation of our layered approach to experience design. But first, let’s explore what ‘enriching’ even means. From a recent slow tourism journal report:
The self-enrichment goal would help the traveler get inspired, discover self, expand one’s perspective, understand and connect more deeply to the destination, and restore positive attitudes and mindset.
We believe this is a tall order for an experience, but not impossible. It requires thoughtfulness, intention, and a hefty dose of creativity. Let's explore together.
Enriching Experiences require heightened levels of emotion
Every experience evokes some sort of emotion, but rarely do people take the time to ask: “what is the heightened emotion we want someone to experience with us?” When there is a lack of emotional intelligence, we often just aim for “satisfaction” or even “happy” without acknowledging that emotions are complex and nuanced.
A guest might experience dozens of emotions in the span of a few hours, triggered by external and internal factors. External factors could be any environmental touchpoint or interactions along the visitor journey. Internal factors are the things people carry over from their previous experiences or simply the internal narrative they have going on at the time.
One of the most important things we can do is become students of emotion and look at the range of feelings from many different angles – both desirable and undesirable emotions. The more you get clear on what people don’t want to feel, the easier it will become to understand more clearly what people do desire to feel, and what needs to be done to help evoke that feeling in your experience.
Enriching Experiences require a deviation from the norm
Studies have found that humans are mentally checked out and operating on autopilot nearly half of the time. From eating the same thing for breakfast day in and day out, to the same nightly routine of going to the gym and scrolling through Instagram… the monotony of everyday life often lacks any element of wonder, inspiration, expansion, or discovery.
So, in order for an experience to be truly enriching, it must break someone out of their rut and present them with something different. There needs to be a level of novelty and innovation so that it isn’t more of the same old. Boosting sensory appeal and breaking the script will help shake someone from their complacency and autopilot mode!
Oftentimes our industry is so focused on delivering pleasure and entertainment, that we overlook the importance of innovation. How many farm-to-table dinners, paint & sip workshops, yoga classes, etc.… are pretty much the same? As more and more hospitality & tourism brands enter the experience market, the need for differentiation and elevation will be crucial as certain experiences become commonplace.
Enriching experiences require actionable wellbeing efforts
You simply can’t ignore or be ignorant to people’s wellbeing needs and also create an enriching experience. It’s impossible! When we are depleted, burnt out, disconnected from our passions, purpose, and loved ones, we are far from feeling enriched and resourced.
The study of wellbeing and positive psychology are essentially how-to manuals to flourishing. Unfortunately, reading a few reports on wellbeing doesn’t mean anything unless you do something creative with that awareness. For example, knowing that putting your guests in a state of flow is going to contribute to their wellbeing is one thing. Creating an experience that actually puts your guests in a state of flow is another.
When we look at this layer, we’re exploring how each moment fosters not only positive emotions but also engagement, connection, a sense of achievement, meaning, and more. For a deep dive into how wellbeing can be infused into an experience, watch this free workshop!
Enriching experiences require an immersive narrative
Jenna Hackett (Global Brand Head of Curio & Tapestry) once said, “when a hotel doesn’t have a story that ties through, the lack of vision falls flat for the guest. It’s not memorable, and you see that in the ROI”. The same could be said for any experience.
When you understand story and pay attention to the story structure you are creating, you are intentionally creating defining peak moments. These moments are not only more profitable (for every $1 of return realized by reacting to problems, businesses can gain a $9 return by building and refining defining moments) they also help ensure that your experience isn’t flatlining.
The classic storyline is full of ups and downs but always building to something, as you can see below. It is dynamic, full of surprises, twists, and turns. The peaks help us ensure an experience is immersive – not surface level. When we model an experience after a story, we are ensuring it’s enriching because every good story inspires and takes someone on a journey of self-discovery and connection to one’s external world.
Enriching experiences require a passion-fueled purpose
Every truly enriching experience is driven by a deep-rooted aspiration and desire for guests, the destination, and the world over. So many experiences and properties in in this world are beautiful and fun, but it stops there. They lack strong devotion to progress and something deeper at their core.
If we go back to the idea of what enrichment really is and we ask ourselves… why is it important that we inspire people? Why is self-discovery imperative? Why does it matter if we expand someone’s perspective? Why should we care if people understand and connect more deeply to our destination? Why should our experience restore positive attitudes and mindset?
Why, why, why. By asking why, we get closer to realizing a meaningful purpose. If you say your purpose is to inspire guests, then I’ll ask you why do you care that your experience is inspiring? A satisfactory answer would be something along the lines of, “Because inspiration leads to action. And if we can get our guests on a path to taking THIS action, making THIS change, then we will have fulfilled our deeper purpose.”
This is the sort of purpose that can really shape and mold an experience into something remarkable and incredibly valuable. By asking why? we go from super general and wishy washy to zooming in on the real reason that people need your experience in the first place.
As we have said many times before, all it takes is one experience to change the trajectory of someone’s life. Enriching experiences have strong ripple effects when designed with intention. If you wish to go through the process of creating an enriching experience with support and guidance, let's get on a call to see if The Storied Experience is a good fit for you.