Meaningful Experiences

by Juan on June 8, 2009

Via Stephen Joyce and his T4 blog (Travel & Tourism Technology Trends) I found a brief but great summary of what constitutes a meaningful experience. It comes from the people at the Lapland Centre of Expertise for the Experience Industry in Finland.

But before I repost an abstract of their model it is worth revisiting where this quest comes from: in give up your urban “devil” I suggest that some sort of experimentation is needed for the global citizen to learn of other life-styles… experimentation as in trying various ‘experiences’.

Here is a list of the elements of meaningful experiences and how I see them applied to the notion of exploring global cultures:

  • Individuality: how unique and extraordinary a product is. One of the key drivers to explore a Global Culture is the realization that unless we are careful to orchestrate our life-styles according to the highest standards, it is too easy to fall into the common place that groups the majority of people living in large urban centres. The quest to learn about how other people (usually small, unique groups) are finding better ways to conduct their lives without giving up important advances in society/culture/technology is what motivates many global citizens to keep moving.
  • Authenticity: reflects the existing lifestyle and culture of the region. In direct opposition to a staged experience, the discerning traveller is often frustrated by elements revealing the orchestration behind the scenes. A daring traveller will often prefer to struggle a little to figure things out and ‘get’ an authentic treatment from the locals than be given a show devoid of challenges, digested for the faint of heart.
  • Story: A credible and authentic story gives the product a social significance and content. I’ve recently started to discuss the fact that the best way to engage potential travellers into an experience is by immersing them into the ongoing story, narrated with all the artifacts of modern technologies (blogs, videos, photos, locals tweeting, etc). The more a person is exposed to the real thing before travel time, the more likely the experience will render the personal transformation expected instead of becoming a collection of awkward, unforeseen circumstances that kill spontaneity.
  • Multi-sensory perception: see my previous post on memorable experiences.
  • Contrast: means how different the experience is from the customer’s everyday life. In the context of immersing yourself into another culture, the degree of contrast may play against you. After all, you’re trying to decide if you could live this life. If everything was too different to what you’re used to, chances are you won’t want it. However, it is safe to assume that the ideal life-style you’re looking for must be different to the one you have today, otherwise why would you had started the quest in the first place.
  • Interaction: I’m convinced that an important element in creating these experiences is the possibility of maintaining your usual connections with your professional realm. This is important because we’re seeing how much we can change your context and maintain that thing that makes you valuable to society… then applying that to your new context.

The T4 blog is all about a technology that helps small, independent tour operators to embrace the same technologies that other larger entities have without incurring in the burden of implementing it. I believe many of the same concepts and much of the technology can be leveraged to create far more complex experiences that span several suppliers. Ultimately we are trying to give people access to many of the elements that would create an entire life-style for a specific period of time in order to give them a shot at
becoming global citizens.

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