Experiences are all differently the same. While each experience is unique in itself, there attributes that make every experience the same.
Let’s start by first thinking about food and love…well, what else could you possibly need? More particularly, let’s think about a first date. It goes something like this: You make a reservation at a restaurant, go there with your date, you are assigned a table and sit down. A waiter hands you the menu, you go through it, discuss wines and choose one that looks a nice fit for both. You order the food and drinks and proceed with the conversation. You’re suddenly interrupted, food is served…that was fast. You then order desert, a coffee and you’re off. It was a wonderful night, your date suggests a second date and you now really like this restaurant…definitely a 5/5 rating.
Few weeks pass and you’re somewhere close to this restaurant. This time, it’s during the week, on a work day and you’re trying to squeeze lunch between meetings. You make and you’re at the same, special restaurant. You get there, ushered to a table, choose lunch and a beverage and make your order. You’re waiting for food but this time, without a lovely conversation. You start looking around, noticing the decorations, music and everything that you missed on your first time at this restaurant. It feels like the service is slow today and you’re rushed to go to the next meeting. The food is served but you now have to quickly eat it, pay and leave…hoping you’re offered coffee at your meeting that starts soon. This time, you might not really like this restaurant. Let’s say you just give a 3/5 rating.
Sit in a train with a beautiful girl for an hour and will look like a minute. Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it would feel like an hour. Albert Einstein
What was wrong with the restaurant during the second visit? Food was of the same high quality, staff was friendly and it was clean. Did the food take longer to be served? Not really. Therefore, essentially, everything was the same, except for your situation/context. The only thing that the restaurant did not do was that it did not cater for people visiting it in different contexts.
The same happens all the time with different businesses, events, services and even products. And why not…software applications. Since we have multiple options for every product/service we choose, we are becoming faster judges to give a gladiator-style thumbs up or down for whatever comes in our way. Think about mobile applications. How often do you download an app only to uninstall it immediately after the first use? Not to mention the applications that you quickly choose to uninstall from your device as soon as you run out of space. The main factor behind your decision is probably how bound you feel to the application itself or in other words, how well does the application blend to your different stages in an experience.
There is one conclusion…experiences are valuable and must not be underestimated if you’re providing a product or a service.
Put simply, value them as a personal experience.
In other entries I will be applying these ideas to specific case studies with the first one developed at St Martin’s Institute of Higher Education in collaboration with Heritage Malta and focusing on St Paul’s Catacombs in Rabat, Malta.