Experience vs. Purchase

In this economy are people seeking experiences over products?  If so that would be good news for the hospitality industry.  I am putting my economic recovery support dollars into services and experiences.  I feel much better supporting my favorite local restaurant or massage therapist than spending money on another product that I don’t really need.  The experiences and knowledge that I have gained from travel has also kept this at the top of my budget although maybe in smaller doses or a bit closer to home.

According to this New York Times article, families seem to be seeking more quality time by finding meaningful experiences to enjoy together.  These shared experiences keep consumers happy for longer periods than material purchases.

I believe with marketing emphasizing the unique experience offered through luxury facilities and service guests may perceive the luxury experience as a good value. National Public Radio reported earlier this week that the new luxury movie theaters are becoming a big trend; at $20+ for a ticket movie goers are finding the value in paying more for better food and service. We have discussed this same phenomenon in earlier GuestIQ posts that focused on upcoming trends like reality show cook-off experience for restaurant guests, and outings or lobby parties for hotel guests.

Joseph Pine and James Gilmore define this trend in detail in The Experience Economy.  They propose that by providing memorable events to your guests the memory of the experience becomes the product.  They argue that businesses then need to move towards creating “transformation” experiences that provide the guest with long term benefits through growth or education.  This immediately brings destination spas to my mind and can definitely expand to other areas of the hospitality industry.

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