• The 'Experience Economy' is Back

    How to reap the rewards to make it really pay off.

    POSTED March 29, 2016

With the growing demand for face-to-face meetings, it is also quite evident that attendees are again expecting an “experience” beyond just content. Unlike past years when scaled-down programs were acceptable, participants now have a higher level of expectation for their meetings, and are again seeking a format that is motivating, rich and compelling.

Yes, the “Experience Economy” is back! So, what does this mean?

Quality in presentation, venue and style are very important in order to provide the greatest impact, to make programs more memorable and to differentiate your organization from others.

As James H. Gilmore, co-author with B. Joseph Pine II of the best-selling book The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage, once described to our ALHI team, the “Experience Economy” applies to the meetings marketplace in many areas. This includes the quality of the facilities, the level of service, the food, the presentations and the available recreational options.

Gilmore gives many helpful tips for meeting professionals to address the desires of attendees in an “Experience Economy.” This includes “focusing on the 4 E’s,” or providing an Escapist experience, offering Educational/Learning opportunities, featuring appealing Esthetics and providing memorable Entertainment.

He also recommends choosing memorable locations and incorporating “the 4 I’s”: Ideas, Insight, Innovation and Inspiration.

While accommodating the higher expectations of attendees in an “Experience Economy” may present some challenges for meeting professionals, providing a rich experience at your meetings can reap the greatest reward for your attendees and your organization.

Recent behavioral science and psychology research by Cornell University Psychology Professor Dr. Thomas Gilovich has shown that experiences provide greater/more enduring happiness than acquired possessions. Experiences such as memorable incentive travel programs and inspiring meetings “become an ingrained part of our identity and are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” according to Gilovich as described by author Jay Cassano on Fast Company’s website FastCompany.com.

Shared experiences provide fond (often lifelong) memories and connect people to others much more so than bonding with someone who has the same possessions.

With so many appealing choices available in Illinois, meeting professionals have an array of fantastic options, which can meet or exceed the expectations of attendees in an “Experience Economy.”

In May, Illinois Meetings + Events announced the winners of the Best of Illinois readers’ choice awards and the Hall of Fame inductees at our annual event that welcomed industry personnel from all over the state. Festivities were held at Rock Bottom Brewery’s upstairs event space with appetizers and signature cocktails provided by the restaurant and desserts courtesy of the Blue Man Group.


Hello readers,

The tides are turning with new venues in Chicago, with some of the most creative spaces we’ve seen opening in recent years. The brand-new Shore Club is one of those standouts. The seasonal structure, placed square on the sand near North Avenue Beach and with floor-to-ceiling windows offering unobstructed views of Lake Michigan, evokes a coastal vacation feeling many would travel to exotic locations to find—but is right in our own backyard.