The “Experience Economy” and How to Use It

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What is the “Experience Economy?” 

Today’s travelers value authenticity, making new memories and having adventures. They want something more than the traditional tourist spots and passive relaxation associated with leisure travel of the past. As Airbnb’s marketing points out, people who travel are doing so to have a certain type of experience.

Huffington Post explains the new philosophy of travel this way: “The experience economy has created an atmosphere that encourages and values experiences above material possessions.” For hoteliers this means that guests will probably appreciate a lavishly furnished suite less than the being near an interesting neighborhood.

Another key point about the experience economy is that it’s a perfect match for the sharing culture of social media. People love to take trips and share those trips through photos, videos and reviews on multiple social media sites.

Here are 2 ideas for how to most effectively deal with this new trend in guest needs: 


Facilitate the Adventure! 

Tech-savvy travelers frequently use Yelp and other online reviews to figure out where to eat and what to do, but word of mouth recommendations are still going to have the most influence on their plans. Plenty of travelers make use of knowledgeable front desk agents or concierges for their recommendations on local attractions.

That type of service fits perfectly into the experience economy. The hotel, by providing local expertise, is enabling people to have the great experience they are looking for. If you’re a hotel marketer your version of a word of mouth recommendation can be a nice map takeaway piece or convenient list of nearby attractions. Google is great but a custom map or list specifically designed by knowledgeable, local experts will be better! Below is a custom map we designed to be given to travel agents, but a similar concept could be used to hand out to guests directly.

Give Guests a Mission 

We recently created some support material for a “photo quest” that Mandarin Oriental New York was implementing. The idea was that kids would get a stamp in their “passport” (known as Pocket Panda) for every stay at Mandarin Oriental. They would also be encouraged to take pictures with their Pocket Panda at a list of locations and then share them on social media. Basically it was a scavenger hunt that encouraged and rewarded visiting and photographing cool spots in New York.

A similar concept could be created for adult guests as well, scavenger hunts or trails are a nice way to add some purpose for a traveler who wants to experience your location but might not be sure of the best way to do so.



Social media was a major component of the Mandarin Oriental photo quest and on its own encouraging social media can be a powerful guest engagement strategy.  A simple way to do this is just creating a weekly give away, Something like: everyone who mentions your hotel in a post or uses a specific hashtag will be entered for a chance to win a gift certificate. Just some type of simple incentive might be enough to get guests to share.


Change Your Perspective 

Hopefully these two tactics will inspire you to come up with some “experience economy” based marketing ideas of your own. The first step in taking advantage of the experience economy is realizing it exists, once you understand that guests are shifting what they want from travel you can shift your own marketing ideas and perspectives, from there the possibilities are endless! Until next time, be well.


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