WHAT IS THE GUEST EXPERIENCE JOURNEY?
Consumers are increasingly choosing how to spend their time and money based on the quality of the experience they think they’ll have with any given brand. Audiences expect to be surprised, delighted, and impressed – not just with your ability to pull off a polished and smooth-running event, but with an event that offers something thoughtful, inspiring and even something unlike anything they’ve experienced before.
That’s not so easy.
Often, gatherings of any size look and feel more or less like the other gatherings the audience has already been to. Adding in a yoga teacher, a VR zen lounge, great A/V or organic, locally sourced food doesn’t make a great event.
So, how do you make your event something different without stressing your team and breaking the bank?
A great place to start is the Guest Experience Journey.
ABOUT THE GUEST EXPERIENCE JOURNEY
The Guest Experience Journey is a holistic and guest-centered view of the experience you are creating. It puts you in their shoes – so instead of following the cookie cutter formula of what everyone else has done (or what you’ve already done in the past), you curate an experience using a combination of event planning best practices, creative solutions and human-design principles.
To create a Guest Experience Journey, you’ll use information gathered from your previous events, guest feedback, and guest reviews, and map it onto your event’s touchpoints.
From there, each touchpoint is delved into to mine the experience, the expectations and the actual outcomes. When you dig down and clarify before planning begins, event teams are able to make decisions faster, are more efficient and craft the kind of experience you’d actually want to attend.
A Guest Experience Journey can be enhanced by layering it with Emotional Mapping.
WHAT ARE TOUCHPOINTS?
Often it can be obvious: The first time a guest receives an email or invitation from you, the ticket purchasing or registration experience, first arrival onsite, the first speaker to welcome the guests, etc.
Other times it’s more subtle: The transportation or parking experience to get to your event, the building’s entrance, a scheduled break in programming.
WHY USE THE GUEST EXPERIENCE JOURNEY?
Creating an intelligently crafted event translates into a more engaging, interesting experience for your guests, which means they’ll be more engaged with your content and mission, they’ll feel a natural sense of brand loyalty and – directly or indirectly – want to support it.
It also means you’ll have more positive reviews, referrals, and social media shares across networks.
People talk about what they like and the good experiences they’ve had. They want to bring their friends to events that make them look good. Using the Guest Journey Experience to plan your event will help you create this kind of event.
HOW TO DO YOUR OWN GUEST EXPERIENCE JOURNEY
Decide how granular you want to get. I suggest starting with the bigger, more obvious touchpoints and, if you have time and resources, keep digging down. The more you can imagine the moment-to-moment guest experience, the more you invite creativity and innovation into your planning.
Write out each touchpoint across the top of a sheet of paper, making a column for each. You might need to use a whiteboard or several pieces of paper if you’re planning a conference or multi-day event.
At each touchpoint, consider the feedback you’ve received or observations you’ve made during past events. If this is the first instance of the event, you can either leave this blank or write down what you think guests might experience. Put your answers in the corresponding column.
Beneath the first set of answers, write down the most ideal outcome for each touchpoint – how do you want the guests to experience each interaction? What is their most ideal response?
Review the completed timeline with your team. Notice what you’re already doing well and where you can add more creativity or better planning.
The goal is to create a seamless flow of well-crafted moments that elevate the guest experience, from first invitation to your post-event thank you message.
BENEFITS OF USING THE GUEST EXPERIENCE JOURNEY
Building the Guest Experience Journey gives you invaluable knowledge and power to create something truly exceptional, while also empowering your team to more creativity, collaboration and excitement for the event.
Beyond that, the benefits are many:
Enhanced guest experience with your brand
Fewer unexpected fires to put out during the event
Ability to anticipate and respond to guest requests and needs before they think of it
The better the guest experience, the more likely they’ll be a brand ambassador via word of mouth and social networks
People are more likely to return to an event the next year if they have an exceptional experience the first time
Bonus: You can do this with your Partners and Sponsors to ensure they have a great experience with you and return again the next year.
If you would like support in mapping out your guests’ experience, get in contact to set up a free 20 min initial consultation.