The discussion in the essay revolves around the concept of the experience economy and the way the customers can be enticed and retained for a longer period, the importance of experiences in tourism and hospitality, and the concept of experiential marketing and its applicability in tourism and hospitality. It’s not easy to retain the customers especially in this recessionary period; marketers should understand the importance of the experiences that customers or guests would feel and must use such cues and tactics in marketing their services that customers get attached to the product or service emotionally and valuably. Experiential marketing is beyond just selling and promoting the services; it’s about the experience that is felt through five senses.
What’s the purpose of tourism? Have you ever wondered why countries promote or encourage tourists to come and visit their country? Do you have any idea about the hidden benefits that countries get from tourism? Tourism along with the tourists benefits the country as a whole. Those countries who promote tourism tend to focus more on infrastructure, sustainable development, climate protecting actions; moreover, they develop and promote diversity of different cultures and maintain equal human rights for all. According to UN Economic & Social Council, Tourism is one of the most important economic activities in the world today, because it directly generates services, products, foreign currency, employment, and investments.
Countries along with their firms are investing heavily in marketing whether it is to sell their tangible products or intangible products or services. The importance of inducing the customers or guests through their five senses has increased because every second firm is marketing the same way as others are, which has created a monotonous effect on the customers. Especially in this era of recession, enticing the customers is not an easy task; they want something different from you that others don’t provide them. The approaches used by the firms in their marketing such as showing the product’s benefits, its usage, its reliability, its price, etc, might not work well for the tourism and hospitality industry. It is due to the reason that this industry mainly provides the services to its customers (guests) which are intangible products; so to tempt the customers to use our services, they must be provided with an image that relates with the experiences and emotions with the particular product or service that they would use.
Since the competition in this globalization era has increased and demands perfection in every aspect of the business to flourish, therefore, many companies are wrapping experiences around their traditional offerings to sell them better. B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore (1998), commodities are fungible, goods tangible, services intangible, and experiences memorable. Experiences are inherently personal, existing only in the mind of an individual who has been engaged on an emotional, physical intellectual, or even spiritual level. As an industry, tourism has many components comprising the overall “travel experience”. Those components include food, accommodations, beverage services, shops, entertainment, aesthetics, and special events (Mahoney & Warnell, 1987).
What matters the most in tourism marketing in the experience economy is the practicality of the services at their best. Customers cannot be easily influenced by the typical marketing styles until and unless they see a differentiating point that would force them to use the services; that is why many companies are adopting the approach to move beyond the services into experiences. Experiences are a distinct offering from services (Pine and Gilmore 1998), experiences must provide a memorable offering that will remain with the customer for a long time. Getting customers is not enough these days, but retaining them is more important; and retention can only be obtained by providing a pleasurable, memorable, and sensational experience to the customers or guests that would remain with them in the future for a long time. Not only this, if they are provided with such experience, they would definitely think of you and would come back to use your services in the future. We see that many countries and other airline companies are marketing their tourism and services these days, and they mainly focus on the experience that the target customers would get.
Tourism and hospitality are all about providing the experiences in such a way that do not only satisfies the customers but makes them feel delighted. The experience should be greater than the customer’s expectations. Tourism has principally been concerned with the tourist experience of visiting, seeing, learning, enjoying, and living in a different mode of life (Oh, Fiore & Jeoung, 2007), so everything tourists go through at a destination can be experienced, be it behavioral or perceptual, cognitive or emotional, or expressed or implied. The destinations that the tourists visit also increase their knowledge and skills through educational experiences. For instance, if you visit any historical place you would learn about the old civilization in that region, their culture, values, traits, ornaments, etc.
Entertainment is another aspect of the experience that is most developed and requires catchy offerings and occupies customers’ attention and readiness. It mainly occurs when tourists passively observe activities or performances of others, including listening to music, reading, and watching for pleasures at destinations (Pine and Gilmore 1999).
The four realms of experience were introduced to the tourism and hospitality literature by Pine and Gilmore. These realms are a conceptual fit to the tourism context by encompassing various aspects of tourism experiences across different destinations; moreover, they can also be used for destination evaluations because they offer practicality for destination management. It’s not easy for tourism or hospitality service providers to entertain all kinds of customers who possess different types of attitudes, preferences, emotions, and perceptions; but they can maintain common ground with the customers based on the relationship, place, and quality.
Often many customers, after a poor experience at any place, get reluctant to or never visit such a place again; and that’s what happened with me. I visit Dubai every year to spend my summer vacations; last year, I stayed in a five-star hotel that I thought was one of the best hotels in Dubai. What made me change the hotel just after two days was their poor and lazy service; they lacked quality and time-efficient services which resulted in a poor experience of mine, and I decided not to stay in that hotel again.
In tourism and hospitality, the concept of experiential marketing is unique. It integrates important elements such as emotions, logic, and general thought processes to develop a bond with the consumer. Its goal is to entice the customers based on the emotional and rational response levels. The tourism and hospitality sectors are not immune to fundamental changes in the orientation of marketing. Innovative experience (Williams, 2006) design will become an increasingly important component of tourism and hospitality firms’ core capabilities.
Effective marketing involves playing with the psychology and senses of the customers to change their minds and entice them to use our products or services. Tourism and hospitality marketing needs the same strategy. Companies should include five aspects in their experiential marketing to create the desired impression and portray the type of experience the customer would get. Those five cues include theme the experience, harmonize impressions with positive cues, eliminating negative cues, mix in memorabilia, and last and most important is engaging all five senses, (Pine and Gilmore 1998).
By playing with the five senses of the people, they can be influenced greatly towards the services that the companies want to offer. According to Yi-Hua “Erin” Yuan and Chihkang “Kenny” Wu (2008), experiential marketing should induce customer satisfaction through emotional and functional values provided by feel perception, think perception, and service quality.
Striking displays should also (Malcolm Tatum) conjure up daydreams of locales and reminders of sensations that are enjoyable to the individual. By doing so, a sense of rapport between the product and the consumer is established that helps to make the good or service more desirable with each encounter. Take the example of the countries like Macedonia, Egypt, Croatia, Malaysia, and South Africa; they all are marketing their tourism and hospitality by broadcasting ads that typically portray the soothing experience that a tourist would get. They depict certain breathtaking sceneries and events that affect the human senses to a great extent.
Since the competition in the business field is immense, so it is not easy for any company to get customers and retain them over a long period. Marketers are developing new standards and means of marketing to keep the business coming their way. The tourism and hospitality industry can be proved to be a key industry to a country if it is properly managed and utilized for the economic and other benefits of a country. The presentation or depiction is the thing that matters the most in grabbing the attention of the tourists or customers; the marketing of the tourism destinations or hospitality places must be done in such a way that is different from the marketing of tangible products or services. It must use experiential marketing and try to grab the customers by playing with their psychology and senses and portraying a positive image of the services and destinations. By going beyond service excellence and marketing experientially, it will lead to the creation in the value of the sector; moreover, it would result in prolific results for a country or company.
- B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore. (1998), The Experience Economy.
- Haemoon Oh, Ann Marie Fiore and Miyoung Jeoung. (2007). Measuring Experience Economy Concepts: Tourism Applications, Journal of Travel Research, 46; 119.
- Mahoney, Edward; Warnell, Gary. 2002, Tourism Marketing. Michigan State University.
- Pine, B. Joseph. 1998, Welcome to the experience economy, Harvard Business Review, v. 76, no. 4, pp. 97-105.
- Tatum, M. (2009). What is Experiential Marketing? Web.
- Williams, A. 2006, Tourism and hospitality marketing: fantasy, feeling and fun, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Volume: 18 Issue: 6. DOI: 10.1108/09596110610681520
- Yi-Hua “Erin” Yuan & Chihkang “Kenny” Wu. 2008, Relationships Among Experiential Marketing, Experiential Value, and Customer Satisfaction, Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, Vol. 32, No. 3, 387-410 (2008). DOI: 10.1177/1096348008317392