Redefining the Customer Journey

We always think about the customer journey in planning our events. We map the paths of egress from a session or a dinner. We chart the way we anticipate attendees will wander through a Sandbox or an Expo floor. We make sure the bathrooms and food—and bars—are easily accessible. We make it easy for attendees to get to where they need to go, and to spend time seeing what they (and we) want them to see.

That’s the logistical customer journey.

Let’s talk about the experiential customer journey and the stories with which attendees leave the event—what they see, what they learn, what they take away and what makes them want to return.

In planning this experiential journey, we take examples from select hospitality brands that take the customer journey to a whole new level; a physical journey with stories to tell. Homestay brands such as Airbnb now offer locally curated "Experiences” to give users a “day in the life” of actual folks living and working in their neighborhoods. You choose to spend your day with a photographer, a florist, a surfer, a truffle hunter, or a documentarian, among others. Users learn a new skill while making a real connection with their host and their home away from home.

How do we apply this type of community-focused experiential journey to events? We’re already focus on highlighting our cause, our brand, our content. How do we layer in that connection that inspires the stories?

Highlight what’s already around you

Focus on your event space. There’s a reason you chose that venue, so, showcase it. Get attendees into the kitchen for a cooking class with your caterer’s head chef. In a less urban environment, take attendees on a guided moonlight walk around the grounds to stargaze and check out the nocturnal nightlife. Integrate art deco decor elements and add a jazz trio to play at a tech conference held at a highly gilded hotel. Play up the historical significance of your venue. Find out what makes it unique and bring that to the forefront for your audience.

Bring the experiences in

Bring the story of the local region into your event. Order your florals from the flower shop down the road. Buy your cheese from that farm you saw on your way in from the airport. For an urban developer conference, partner with local street artists to commission works that become event graphics, swag and large scenic pieces. Support and highlight the local community, after all, they’re welcoming you and your guests into their neighborhood for the event.

Take attendees out

Give attendees an experience that ordinarily they wouldn’t have time to enjoy. Build time into the schedule for guests to sample the local culture. Think of this as less touristy on-shore excursions. Better yet, a chance to choose their own adventure—glass blowing at that locally renowned glass studio, harvesting at the urban garden, or a historical tour of the neighborhood from a longtime resident. For a small thought leadership conference in the desert, host a sunrise hike up a nearby mountain. Give users a moment to connect to the region and its residents, as well as a chance to share the experience with fellow attendees.

What makes Airbnb’s Experiences unique and lasting is users discovering the hosts’ day-to-day contributions to their community. Make your attendees feel like a real part of that community by including host elements and stories into your event. The experiential customer journey strengthens a sense of community through a shared story to tell.

More about Sparks event production.

Whether it’s a high profile, globally attended three-day conference for thousands or an intimate, high-level VIP experience for 100, we produce events and create experiences that exude your brand story while creating brand advocates.

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Posted by Meaghan Haas | Request as a Speaker

Event producer and 360 degree thinker. Seattle > New Zealand > NYC > LA resident. Community builder, comfort baker, lover of breakfast for dinner.