Monday, June 18, 2018

The Guest Experience Matters... ...All the Way to the Bottom Line!


More information on Seth Foster can be found here.

Thinking about the Guest Experience for large-scale property design is an alien concept for most developers. Whether these projects are resorts, mixed-use developments or urban planned communities, they each pose their own unique challenges in creating an ideal experience for all patrons. It isn’t easy to think “outside the box” and grasp the value of ITEC Entertainment’s approach to a project, which focuses on developing a storyline and narrative for a property that resonates with a guest emotionally.  However, more developers around the world are beginning to recognize that a great experience can mean even greater returns.

Humans are a storytelling species, and we often connect with storytelling on a subconscious level. When a story feels right, even if one is ‘suspending disbelief,’ that connection can form an emotional bond which translates into higher revenue for projects, as well as more frequent visitation and incredible social media interaction with potential global impact.

To understand the importance of story and how it impacts the value people place on experiences, consider these two examples:

  Celebration, Florida: A planned community by Disney that was literally constructed from nothing, to create an American hometown that truly only existed in the imagination.  Opening sales were oversubscribed, visitors had hours-long traffic to contend with when it first was opened to the public and prices were (and still remain) at a premium over comparable homes in the area.
   Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean”: This classic attraction is beloved by many for over 50 years and counting. Yet, virtually no one that has ridden it knows the story being told (prior to the recent movie tie-in revisions).  We just “get it”.  On an instinctive or subconscious level, each scene and vignette works in service of the story, even though guests don’t specifically know why.   This is a direct result of the purposeful development of a detailed, layered, and broadly-appealing story enhanced by a flawless execution.  As a result, guests are enthralled and develop an emotional attachment with the ride experience - and by extension with Disney as a whole. 
Imagine the potential of a resort, a mixed-use development, or even a city that’s developed around a fully-realized story and theme that just “feels right”.  The opportunity then exists to integrate design in the architecture, environment, and the entire organization of a site, to seamlessly support this narrative.  Developers could construct amenities or activities in a resort that “work together perfectly for some reason” because the story underpinning the project allows for them to form a unique connection between the project and the guest. This makes the Guest Experience more meaningful, less repeatable by competitors, and therefore more valuable.

That reality isn’t far off.  ITEC Entertainment is currently working on several projects in Asia, Latin America and North America where developers recognize the value of incorporating a memorable Guest Experience into the core DNA of their projects.  By building the project around the story, we can create something fundamentally unique and much less vulnerable to competition.  Enhancing the value of a guest’s experience translates into loyalty, a perception of increased value, and a marketable differentiator that can further expose the project to millions of people through online and social media.

Invest in the Guest Experience and create that emotional bond.  It will resonate with customers like dropping a pebble in a pond, radiating out beyond the limits of the specific visitors, beyond the time they are at the site, and develop a valuable brand identity with incredible potential to enhance the bottom line.