To create truly memorable experiences that "blow guests away" and keep them returning year after year, involves moving beyond standard offerings. Some of the best ideas and most unique activities often come directly from event participants. The key is to pinpoint participant interests and design extraordinary experiences that cater to them. Sometimes, it doesn't take much to do this. Here are a few examples.
Recently, during orientation for a corporate incentive trip, one of the participants commented on how impressive the foliage was at the property. She expressed an interest in discovering more about the trees, flowers and other vegetation.
It took some out-of-the-box thinking as garden tours were not a standard activity. The result was a walking tour and photo opportunity with someone from the company that landscaped the grounds and provided the gardening services. The guest was thrilled. She came back filled with knowledge and over 50 stunning photos.
Here is another example. A couple of participants in a foreign retreat were avid motorcyclists. They were very interested in getting a close-up of the countryside from the back of the motorcycle. It took several months of digging to find an operator that was safe, fully insured and licensed by the tourist board. The result was an experience that the participants described as life changing and a highlight of their trip. You can read about it here.
There are some lessons that event planners can glean from these experiences. When a participant or guest makes a request that is beyond standard offerings:
Anticipate guest interests.
Include questions about participant hobbies and interests on pre-event surveys.
Ask "Are there any special experiences that you would like to build into your time during the retreat (or your time in ___________ insert country)".
"No" should never be the first answer.
Instead of saying "we can't do that," ask "how can we make this happen?"
Tap into the interests and special skills of your staff.
For example, there may be a member of your guest services team who has a strong interest in sketching. When a guest has an interest in learning more about sketching, it's an opportunity to enrich the employee's job and the guest experience.
Brainstorm until you find a way to make things happen.
- Catalog the resulting experience and make it available to other participants.
It's easy to fall into the "that's not how we do it here" rut. We can surpass guest expectations and create truly mind blowing experiences by a change in mindset and being flexible enough to move beyond standard fare.
For more tips on customizing the guest experience, also read Luxury Resorts Leverage Social Media to Deliver Personalized Service on Cvent Event Blog
Photo Credit: Executive Oasis International