Experiential marketing is not selling to a passive consumer; it is engaging an active imagination. British Airways did just this in busy Victoria Station. You’re used to long lines at the airport, but not like this – people were queuing up to play. BA created an installation with flight simulator games, and passengers became B777 pilots. Every 15 minutes, the person with the most accurate flight won two tickets to a featured destination. BA gave their audience an experience, instead of a pitch. With the push on experiential marketing, why not look at the return on experience?
ROE is a bit of a marketing shtick, a good way to refresh an old topic. The experience is the investment, so we look more closely at every component of a meeting and event. Did each element bring a return? The cocktail hour, a staple of many an event, for instance, comes under scrutiny. The décor, the entertainment, the food, the staff, the bartenders, all of these add up to a considerable chunk of change. We need to measure that experience and determine if it is worth it.
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What if, instead of a cocktail hour, we gave people a free hour and made plans to meet at dinner? To make the call, you’d have to ask some questions to determine your ROE. Did people show up to this thing at all? If the hour started at 5:00, did people come in at 5:45 and miss the prepaid appetizer?
Or did people really look forward to that time because that’s the chance for serious networking? Is the cocktail hour the most important part of the overall event because people get to rub elbows with executives? Do people discuss learning from meetings and then action them at cocktail parties? Is this where the real work happens, or is it where the real work of deciding between wine and beer happens?
ROE asks us to look at events with a different perspective and question whether each component is pulling it’s weight. Is this guest speaker adding value? Is this activity driving our objectives forward? Is this event facilitating learning that people will take back to their offices? Is this a good experience for our attendees, and is that enough to justify the investment? If so, you nailed it, event rock star. If not, you’ll measure adjust, and nail it next time.