I often smell fear in the air when I talk to marketers about guest experience. Why is that? What are the big blocks you need to overcome to create an amazing, commercial and unique guest experience for your brand?
Why create guest experiences at all?
If your brand is the DNA the experience is the whole living body. This brand blueprint should run through everything a great experience is made of. If you think of incredible guest experience the odds are you’re thinking about outstanding brands in their market. It’s this expression of the brand into a real-world experience that creates emotional connection.
We all know that humans are naturally centred around connection-making. Without connection, brands are in fear of becoming content providers only. Snackable, disposable and ultimately replaceable. Our wonderful brains are equipped to take no notice of the routine stuff and who wants a brand that gets no notice?
Introducing the big three challenges…
Let’s assume you have operations under control, your experience will be managed well and all the health & safety considerations are sorted. So, what are the other big challenges that sometimes hold us back?
1 The FUD factor (or Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt)
Creating an experience, by definition, is a public thing. But it can be terrifying for marketers to consider. We think, “People will judge it!”, “My boss will see it!”, “What if no-one comes?”. We create doubt and panic at our abilities before we even start.
The solve: Remember why you want to create this experience in the first place. What is the genuine benefit it offers your guests? Do they want to learn, have fun, relax? Stay true to this throughout the entire briefing and creation process. If your experience doesn’t deliver this benefit then rethink it. If you deliver a truly desirable outcome people will want to come and enjoy your experience.
Work with exceptional people. You will have some specialist experience on your team and you can find more when you need it. Your guest experience will live or die by the concept and the execution together and that means an incredible team.
And the boss? Well, if you deliver a great experience the ROI will be there for all to see. Tickets sales, bums on seats, social shares, applications… and more.
It can be difficult to apportion budget to experiential marketing, typically because ROI can be an afterthought and then hard to prove to your board. Budgets can creep too. Experiences can be complex. Complex can cost money.
The solve: Set your commercial targets first and then build a brief around it. ‘We want to generate 20% more footfall from teenagers this summer season’. This, along with the real guest benefit, should drive your briefing process.
Think about how you are going to capture the ROI measure before, during and after. It could be something as simple as google analytics or social shares, it could be more dynamic data around ticket pricing, it could be pre/post guest surveys. Whatever the data is going to be get it ready before you start.
Scoping your project with everyone on the team is the only way to stop any nasty surprises. Spend your money on the true guest benefit. If that guest benefit is beyond your budget have another think – is this the right project for you right now? There’s nothing worse than scaled-down guest experience that misses all the marks.
Achieving stand-out in a busy market can be tricky. There are so many choices for your customers that choosing anything can be agonising for them. Once again… you guessed it… I’m going to take you back to the genuine guest benefit. How can you deliver this in a way that is unique to your brand?
A great test is to imagine your experience without any branding. Does it feel like your brand experience? What other markers are there to make the experience unique to your guests? It might be your IPs, your tone, your products themselves or your people. Think Disney with Mickey & Minnie IPs or Virgin Atlantic’s crew members.
Use what’s new. There’s so much new tech out there that we can do pretty much anything. Is your experience a big physical build or is it a digital, personalised one? How can you blend digital and physical to add layers of discovery to your experience?
Most of your success in guest experience will come from putting your guest first. The rest will come from delivery. Recognise your challenges and then work through the solves, and if you need more help then subscribe to our Katapult Blog for more top tips.