On 7 February, Georgia attended the Hotel Marketing Association’s talk and panel discussion on ‘How Can Hotels Compete in the Experience Economy?’ at the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane. The event began with an insightful session by futurist and author James Wallman, before moving to a panel of distinguished hotel professionals, James Day from Gourmet Experience, Ray Goertz from The Arch Hotel, Patrick Heesen from Marriott International and Kate Grevillé from GG Hospitality. What is the Experience Economy? The definition of an experience is to transform the everyday needs to something extraordinary. By creating this experience, you provide guests with a memory, a picture, a story to tell their friends and family. In the 21st century, consumers are less materialistic and more experiential – everyone can buy themselves a designer watch or bag, but the new kind of wealth is the ‘experience rich’. This new status and the evolvement of social media allows consumers to showcase their breadth of worldliness in real time. Experiences such as extreme sports, festivals, pop-up bar and restaurants, and escape rooms have all seen an increase in popularity over the last few years. Research by Barclaycard in May 2017 showed that 34% of people now prefer to spend money on these types of activities rather than objects. How can hotels tap into the Experience Economy? To attract an experiential guest, hotels need to create stories, which lead to creating conversations. By creating a story, no matter how big or small, connections are made to a person or place, and this leads to relationships being formed, which ultimately creates a happy experience. Many companies are already ahead of the curve in creating sought-after adventures, such as Black Tomato. The innovative travel operator has developed its own exclusive service, Blink, offering guests the most personalised luxury travel experience imaginable – the chance to design their own temporary accommodation in locations no one has ever stayed in. Here are a few ways that hotels can compete in the Experience Economy: Invest time in digital content In the era of mass digital consumption, visual content is key and by showcasing your hotel’s experiences, you can attract guests. Whether this is a video of a signature cocktail being served or an image of a bath in a suite being run, potential guests want to know what is in store for them if they were to book a stay. Create ‘moments’ By creating memorable, personal and social moments, you will be imprinted in a guest’s mind. This connection will then enable guests to shout about the incredible time at your property. This could be a personal letter in their room upon arrival, a barman knocking on a guest’s door with a drinks trolley or a Virtual Reality(VR) tasting experience. Destination, destination, destination Not all hotels have the budget to create VR adventure to the world of Star Wars or an immersive Secret Cinema-style event, and that doesn’t mean you can’t create experiences. By promoting your location, partnering with attractions in the area or its historic anecdotes, you can build a desirable adventure for your guests. Small touches to add to a guest’s stay can make all the difference. Utilise every touch point of your customer journey and tell potential guests everything you have to offer. To find out how Custard can help promote your experiences, get in touch.