So, what was it all about? Five key takeaways:
Leading the way in experiential best practice and simultaneously pushing the boundaries, the summit transformed the venue into a veritable playground of experimentation and implementation within an experience. It felt uplifting to revisit a more playful, creative, theatrical and spiritual side to human experiences where we, as industry creators, can take audiences on a journey through storytelling and connective environments. There was an element of escapism, a luxury time and pace where the audience could explore a wide agenda and hear from experts and industry leaders.
It sounds obvious, but experiences are built within each individual’s psychological construct. Agencies and clients alike can get fixated by what they can see, the narrative they’re trying to control and one-size-fits-all customer journeys, at the expense of the intangibles that turn an ordinary experience into an extraordinary one. Neuroasthetics experts, Kinda Studios, gave a talk explaining how they bridge the gap between neuroscience and creative concept shaping. It’s fascinating that emotion is a physical reaction initially, before it’s processed cognitively! A reminder of how body and mind are intrinsically linked and that aesthetic experiences (including the arts) are hard-wired in us all, they are fundamental to our health, wellbeing, and learning.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by an actor dressed as a monk and invited to proceed into a contemplation space where we were encouraged to write down at least one thing we wanted to release before entering the event, and at least one intention we wanted to take forward. Although initially hesitant, we played along promising to forgo any cynicism and carry forward the curiosity we arrived with. In a way it worked. We didn’t laugh at the whale noises that opened the keynote and found genuine insight in a talk about how rave culture could help make better brand experiences. But this moment was a reminder that it doesn’t matter what the event, if you’re not in the right frame of mind it can go south quickly and it’s our responsibility to work with clients to help create the most conductive mindset possible to achieve their aims and objectives. There was a big focus on transformation and mindset throughout the event, which the venue helped to enforce.
Event measurement can be crude and/or tenuous at times, at least when it comes to assessing the true value to the businesses investing in them compared to other marketing disciplines. Mat Duerden, an academic consultant, presented his model of building and measuring extraordinary experiences, focusing on three keys areas; Memorable (eliciting positive emotions), Meaningful (imparting insight and/or enabling discovery) and Transformative (creating behavioral change). Qualitative research during and post events provides an NPS-style score for each area, which can be used to evaluate against event objectives. For real time analytics a variety of nascent tech has emerged in recent years and Joe Pine discussed his work with Lively, a real-time neuroscience measurement tool utilising smartwatches and fitness trackers to measure audience emotion and engagement. With more developments like this, benchmarks for the industry can be established.
We tend to think of innovation as being solely technical but actually it’s about the whole field of experience design and pulling together all elements such as play, human behaviours and neuroscience. Tech is just the vehicle, not the end destination – there was only a mere nod to technology throughout the summit. Case in point, the summit venue helped to elevate and promote the power of experience in a physical way that tech alone would struggle to.
In what can be best described as ‘experimental experiential’ WXS 2023 hit the sweet spot in creating an alternative three day summit for ‘experience creators’ to indulge in their craft with like minded professionals. The summit struck the right balance of thought provoking topics, education, immersive interaction and good old fashioned fun! Attending for just one day definitely wasn’t enough – we wanted more! It was refreshing to get away from the constant AI discussion and focus on alternative topics which were baked into the whole summit ethos.
If you’d like to discuss supercharging your brand experiences, contact us to make the most of moments that matter.