26 April 2012 // Thoughts

The Value of Experiential Design: Dollars and Sense

Again we bring you VP of Marketing and Business Development, Shawn McCoy who’s going to teach us about the dollars and cents (or sense) of experiential design through a visit to a very special hotel.

Does experiential design offer any real value? As we’ll see over the next few blog entries, the answer is a definitive yes. Experiential design offers a great deal of value to both guests and the providers, from a wide variety of standpoints – including economic, marketing, educational, training, recruitment, even social.

Let’s begin with economics, where the formula is pretty simple: Experiential design helps to not only differentiate a venue from its competition and create consumer preference, but also encourages repeat visitation. This increase in initial and repeat demand provides economic value.

Let’s look at a quick personal example. Over the years, our studio has had number of client meetings and conferences in London. And every time we go to London, I stay at the same hotel – The Athenaeum in Mayfair.

One of the main reasons that I think I continue to select this hotel, besides it being a nice hotel, is the fact that every time I go there (whether it’s been two weeks or two years since my last stay) as soon as I get out of my cab and arrive at the hotel, I’m greeted by the doorman who always says “Welcome home, Mr. McCoy, glad to have you back.”

While I know that he probably doesn’t really remember me (as the cynic in me thinks that they probably cross check reservation arrivals with physical descriptions), it’s a nice gesture and it is one small reason that makes me consistently choose this hotel over equally nice, and often less expensive, hotels.

That gesture alone has generated a bit of economic value to the hotel, as it helped to create my preference for the hotel, which has resulted in repeat bookings. When you think about the cumulative value brought to the hotel from other guests who also repeatedly choose the hotel based in part by this gesture, the economic impact of experiential design really starts to become clear.

The hotel certainly understands that an experiential design philosophy can help to differentiate itself from the competition. Recently, the Athenaeum introduced a new experiential service called Granny Nannies, where the hotel provides professional nanny services for guests on evenings and weekends, so that parents can enjoy a romantic night out on the town.

After the hotel advertised for the position, a panel including a six year-old and a twelve year-old interviewed a variety of potential nannies, asking them a variety of questions, such as “how would you persuade me to go to bed” to “how fast can you run?”

The three winning nannies – Angela, Andrea and Deborah – are pictured here with their selection panel (and our favorite doorman Bill).

Creative initiatives such as these are what make The Athenaeum so special and that make me come back time after time.

Next week, Shawn tackles the value of experiential design as it relates to marketing, both in creating differentiation for your product/service and cutting through the clutter.  Thanks for reading!