As the hospitality industry grows and businesses continue to compete for customer spend, the question for clubs is how to produce customer experiences that appeal to a modern society where emotional resonance is so highly valued.

In this 'experience economy', the collective effervescence provided by an event or dining out meets social, intellectual and emotional needs that cannot be replicated by other means.  This is not a new trend.  At the turn of the millennium, Rolf Jensen, Director of The Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, famously observed that as experience consumers, we have slowly been developing into a "dream society".

This dream society is characterised by the commercialisation of emotions.  A recent article by Future Food shares how some food and hospitality precincts around the world are successfully leveraging the experience economy by appealing to emotions in order to capture hearts and minds, not just stomachs.

SHOW THEM HOW IT'S MADE

Perception is dominated by what the eyes see.  Open and customer-facing kitchens are not a new idea, however, in a experiential world, this concept provides an opportunity to heighten people's value perceptions.  People want to know the who, what, where and how of the food on their plate, so seeing the skill involved in making fresh pasta, sashimi being sliced or the brew master at work will enhance the emotional perception of the food or craft beer, all the way to their taste buds.

IS IT INSTAGRAM WORTHY?

The anticipation and aspirational aspects of a dining experience begin well before a customer enters a venue.  It is not uncommon for younger generations to swipe through social media posts to seek out a coveted dish with "bucket list" menu items driving culinary tourism.  The sharing of food selfies is providing a lifestyle prop, entertainment and meeting a need for self-expression.  This higher level of engagement goes beyond new dishes and new ingredients.

MORE IS MORE - DESIGN AS A POINT OF DIFFERENCE

Clever restaurant design delivers brand personality without uttering a word.  Branding through interior design creates a visual experiential space offering ambiance, the ability to tell a story and evoke emotions to help customers connect with your venue's personality and instill a desire within them to return time and again.

PERSONAL CONNECTIONS = AUTHENTIC BRAND

In the virtual world, authentic personal connection is more valuable than ever.  Having a waiter introduce themselves and refer to customers by name is a simple way to elevate the dining experience.  Some busy city cafes have introduced facial recognition at the door so by the time the customer gets to the counter, they are greeted by name and asked if they would like their regular order.  Food precincts and food halls are engaging concieges in order to create to personal connection and leave a positive impression in visitors' minds.  It is no longer enough to produce a useful product.  For it to be successful, its primary purpose is the ability to fulfil an emotional need.  Those who understand the workings of this dream society are those who will create new products, new markets, and new businesses that will dominate the world of tomorrow.

(SOURCE: Viktoria Darabi, Barringtons, ClubLIFE MAR 2018)