Technology v Experiences – searching for the balance

Technology has been winning the war over the last two years in providing what consumers want. However, it is experiences which can win back lost ground.

Despite all which has taken place over the last two years, there are still many who do believe that, sooner or later, business will revert back to 2019. Maybe this will be true in time but probably not in 2022. Even if it does happen, the one thing that will attract many back to city centres will be exceptional experiences. It will not matter if one is visiting a business, restaurant, hotel or an event, people are looking for something that makes much better to confirm why they are making the effort.

It may sound strange but something has changed in mind-sets and people will not travel unless for a compelling reason. Everything has to be that much better and great service will sit right at the heart of creating stronger experiences.

There are a number of theories as to why mind-sets have changed. One can understand that it has been enjoyable not to have to attend conferences but instead listen online. Many forget just how many did not enjoy attending day-long conferences and feeling they had to network. The fact they have been able to connect via new digital platforms and means has been a positive factor. Many have felt that the new online experiences have felt easy and caused less wasted time; they have been able to listen to the content and work.

Research has suggested that the majority prefer today to communicate via email or social media. This has been equated to a loss of over £3bn in sales so the question has to be – how is reversed and what will tempt people back?

The answer will not lie in process or technology but surely the experience someone feels when entering a hotel, business or restaurant. The welcome is more important than ever. It is not about communication as most consumers note they feel they are connect most effectively online but how and experience impacts on another. What is it which make people travel and make the effort which used to be an accepted norm?

It will not be communication as this is so easy and effective today via technology. One of the most striking reports over the NY period was many have moved out of cities to rural destinations. Taunton saw house prices rise by record levels in 2021. The major cities now need to respond. It won’t happen by going back to 2019 standards.

Now is the time to think about preparing for new experiences. The customer and employee hold the power in the immediate term but this can be easily changed by investment in the pieces which make a difference. For example, the office experience becomes that much better and clients want to visit – as they get a great experience – then naturally this will draw people in. The employee should not hold the power; the place of work or venue should but through the experience it offers and how it wows people. It is a service which can create the change which is desired but the focus must be on raising the benchmark?

Technology has been winning the battle as it is offered people the freedom to displace, be separate and be free. It has created ease which has appealed. This has been to the advantage of many during 2020/21. However, it does not build trust or affection. It does not make people aspire to be better. Great experiences can.