As Joseph Pine and James Gilmore said in their 1998 book, The Experience Economy, “Work is theater and every business is a stage.” It’s something every business should take to heart, and it’s something that we always stress in branding campaigns. The experience is your brand. With this in mind, I’d like to share a recent trip Scott and I took, which exemplifies the importance of not just the product, but of creating an experience.
Last weekend, we traveled to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, to a resort I had found online and chosen because of the location, the good reviews – and the fact that they were pet friendly. While we expected a nice place to stay, we were completely impressed by the EXPERIENCE that the resort owners at Eureka Sunset Lodge created for us.
Upon registration, owner Becky warmly greeted us, drew out a map of places to go, and gave restaurant and menu recommendations. She lives on the property, and told us she was right there if we needed anything, and explained that daily maid service wasn’t done but that she’d bring whatever we needed. Becky said that her guests are typically there to get away, and don’t really like the interruption of housekeepers coming in each morning. Wow – I get that! It is always a hassle to be shooed out of my room every day!
When we approached our cabin, we immediately saw a chalk board out front with the message “Welcome Scott & Lauren” – and a smiley face. What a simple, yet special touch to add to the experience. Other special touches included fresh coffee beans & grinder in our kitchen, a basket full of snacks, and a gas grill on the private deck just waiting for some great meals. And we couldn’t help but notice, but our cabin was probably the cleanest place we’ve ever stayed. I’m talking shiny, brand new looking, spotless (yet comfortable), all in this little cabin in the woods.
To add to the experience, our cabin was filled with the owners’ family photos, and a framed print that told the story of how a group of friends came to build the resort. It made us feel part of the story because they invited us in to that story.
All of those little touches made for the experience. Was it a nice place? Yes. Was the setting beautiful? Yes. But what will I remember? I will remember the chalkboard note at the front door, the extra time Becky took with us, the fresh coffee beans. That experience is their brand, and that’s what great marketing is all about.