Why ’experience’ is misleading

If you have followed this blog for a while, you might know that I attended MPI’s World Education Conference (WEC) in Las Vegas in June. It was a great conference where I got to network with a lot of MPI people from around the world, and I had a blast.

The theme for the conference was ’Stop planning meetings, start designing experiences’, which I thought was over the top fantastic as that is what I live and breathe. However, the conference was a class example of the difference between experience and experience.

What does experience really mean?

Let me explain: Originally, experience economy or experience management was a means of getting your clients to pay more for your product or service by adding an extra element…the experience. But the word experience also covers the feeling you are left with after attending a concert, going to a magnificent party, or meeting a celebrity. And I cannot stress this enough: This kind of experience is NOT the experience I am talking about here!

At WEC, they showed that their understanding of experience was the blinking neon lights kind of experience. That if you throw a party and wow the participants with food, gifts, and great bands (yes, Joan Jett is still great after all these years!), you will automatically also have an experience. But sorry guys, that is not how it works.

Focus on the purpose

For some years now, I have worked on combining experience and professional conferences by elevating the experience concept to cover all aspects of what an experience consists of (read the blogpost “Back to shool: Experience Management” to get an overview) as well as the element of learning, getting motivated, networking, or making decisions – in other words, to combine experience elements with the purpose of the conference as this is ALWAYS the first and foremost element to consider. This way we meet the objectives of the conference by making it an experience for the attendees.

The search for a new term

In my opinion, ‘experience economy’ or ‘experience management’ is a completely wrong term as it has too many connotations. I have been looking into finding another term but it is not that easy, I have to say. What do you think of ‘expression economy’, ‘immersion economy’, ‘attention economy’ or ‘insight economy’? I like the last one, but it is actually already a term (it means insight from analyses of big data, which this is not), so that is a no go.

So, I guess I will keep looking for that perfect term to describe the concept. Please, feel free to jump in with any suggestions you might have.

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