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The Experience Economy

Updated: Jan 12

The experience economy, and in our sector specifically, experiential holidays and accommodations, are hot topics right now. Once the preserve of niche agencies and operators, they are now being talked about by mainstream suppliers, OTA's and operators alike, and rightly so, because rather than a passing trend, the experience economy is a long term movement. And already longer that most of us might imagine, because it was first predicted and the term 'experience economy' coined back in 1998... no, that is not a typo!


'Quality Unearthed' was one of the first agencies dedicated to glamping and alternative accommodations so the accommodation portfolio was by nature experiential, and in 2015 Kate decided to present a Seminar about the guest experience and the pacticalities of delivering it. The seminar content was image rich and focused on creating places that told a story and delivered authentic experiences, leaving guests with deeply felt memories. It was very much still in its infancy at the timer but the concept of an experience led economy had been predicted 17 years earlier by two U.S. business leaders Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, they had also published a book by the same name.


"An experience is not an amorphous construct; it is as real an offering as any service, good, or commodity. In today’s service economy, many companies simply wrap experiences around their traditional offerings to sell them better. To realize the full benefit of staging experiences, however, businesses must deliberately design engaging experiences that command a fee."


experience economy, glamping tent
example of an experience-led glamping unit

Since that seminar in 2015 the concept of 'experiential' had continuted to develop, with tourism reports reflecting a year on year growth in experience-led liesure activities and holidays, however, in the last two years it has rocketed, why? .... Covid. Our attitude toward nature, freedom, time with loved ones and indeed life itself, has transformed into some more demanding and immediate... life seems more precious and we want to make the most of it. We're looking for things that means something, that enrich our lives and we want to spend our liesure time more authentically.


For our sector in particular this creates some exciting opportunities to start something new and innovative, or diversify and develop our business model. Estates are scrutinising the potential for capitalising on natural assets, holiday parks are diversifying thier product mix, and hotels are adding extra bed numbers with land-based rooms.

Here's the original article about the experience economy from the magazine dated, 1998 .. personally, as part of an experiential workshop, naturally, we think we should be teaching people to bake their own birthday cakes again... !

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