As we come to the end of the year it is natural to wonder what new trends might be on the horizon for the coming year. And with a little browsing and searching the internet can provide a dizzying array of speculation and crystal ball predictions year in and year out.
The predictions for 2012 are no exception, and run the gamut from healthy feet to online wellness gaming! and everything in between. But interestingly, there seems to be a rising awareness of one basic principle: "Wow” experiences win out!
Given the fact that for the last ten years our company tag line has been “We don’t design interiors…We design experiences.” I find this wowness with "wow" especially intriguing because, while everyone is jumping on the band wagon of cultivating an "wow" experience-based customer environment -- sometimes elaborate and theatrical and sometimes subtle and calming -- very little is usually done to strategically manage this kind of program.
What is usually missed (because the typical approach is surface only) is that every element of sensory reception needs to be integrated to reflect the desired experience promise; the "wow". Guests are experientialists and designers need to be very thorough when spinning our story for a space. The experience must be comprehensive -- otherwise guests will likely not return. Tell the story well and they will come, experience, stay, and most importantly, share with others; expanding your reach in both your real and online communities!
Adding complexity to this seemingly simple goal of providing a "wow" experience-based environment for your guests, we should also clarify that there are usually two types of experiences potentially taking place here: "Brand experience" and "customer experience." The first speaks to what you as a business owner aim to cultivate as your brand in the eyes of the public and your guests. You will spend a lot of resources to deliver on this goal. The second, customer experience, is a bit more tricky as it really is the experience that only the individual customer can have -- an experience that will always be unique to that individual.
So, while you can plan for brand experience, it's much more intricate and challenging to ensure a positive customer experience that is integrated with your projected brand as you want it to be seen, advertised, endorsed, and passed on by word-of-mouth -- especially in an era of Yelp, Facebook and Twitter.
Brand, by definition, is a promise. And the customer experience is the personally meaningful and tangible experience each of your guests has with your spa or resort and how closely it delivers that promise in a world of no second chances to make the right first impression. These considerations can almost be paralyzing to a business owner to figure out and navigate successfully. Customer experience is about the moment of truth -- and one must keep in mind just how disappointed people are when a brand fails in that important moment.
Finally, we also are definitely influenced by things other than our personal, direct interactions.
Given the wide and involved nature of this topic and its extremely important impact on business success or failure, (more so now than ever) I will be dedicating a couple of upcoming blog postings to delve deeper into the experience-based approach and how to do it well. This, in the hope that information and discussions that are sure to ensue may make your businesses not simply trend following but iconic one-of-a-kind sought out destinations -- whether you are a regal resort or a dynamic day spa.