Travelling is a need for many people, and we always want to explore new things and new places. Many new players are rapidly disrupting the travel market; millennial travellers constantly seek unique and authentic travel experiences. Apart from the short-term rental, one of the giant players, Airbnb, also creates a product named "Experience" that allows locals to list their tours and activities on their platform.`
I started my photo walk," Neon Signs in HK - a photo walk", in 2018 October, teaching guests to take pictures of Neon lights in Jordan and Yau Ma Tei. Hosting for more than 150 guests with 62 reviews and having a rating of 4.92/5 on Airbnb, here is what I learned from it.
Think about staging an experience rather than just a service
People buy experience, not service or products. When designing my tour I am thinking about how to create a journey that allows my guests to fully immerse themselves in Hong Kong and make this experience memorable. Therefore, rather than just stopping in a few locations, showing all the angles and photo-taking techniques. I choose to use an emotional journey to map out what I want my guest to feel during the experience. At every stage of the experience, I want them to have different feelings and emotions, making this tour more memorable. (See the following emotional journey of a wedding experience).
Sometimes, I will teach a challenging technique first and then move to a surprise location, creating a contract on my guest's emotions. Or maybe create a surprise at the end of the experience by bringing them to a secret place not listed on the itinerary. All these touchpoints are carefully designed and optimised. The goal is to make this a memorable experience rather than just a photography class.
Guest Centric & Personalisation
We don't like one-size fit all products. I believe we should make the product more customized and cater to individual needs by allowing people to choose what they want. My guests can choose what they want to experience in the 3-hour tour. A day before the tour start, I will send them a short questionnaire. (Shown as below)
I asked what knowledge or experience I could share and their experience in photography before it started. After getting the feedback from my guest, I can then identify their needs and stage a delightful experience.
My guests often ask about the politics & social economy in Hong Kong or Hong Kong people's identity, which generally won't be touched in this 3 hours experience. Luckily with the survey, I can start a deeper conversation with my guests and share our knowledge within the group.
Aiming to create a transformative experience
A transformative experience means after the experience; my guests will be a little different. The transformation can be a new feeling of comfort in your city, a connection with another guest, or a new skill they can take back home.
Since my experience is about photography, I hope my guests can learn some photo-taking skills and use a different angle to appreciate new neighbourhood. Constantly ask myself if my guests are willing to share this with a friend this experience and will their guests remember the trip. Following are some of my favourite reviews, and I think I did a great job back then.
I am very grateful to have a chance using what I learn in design thinking and apply it to create an experience for others. More and more neon signs are being torn down; I am not sure if I will continue to do this tour again. But I will never forget the times I spend with my guests during this experience.
Books Recommendation if you want to know more about creating experience and experience economy:
- The Experience Economy: Competing for Customer Time, Attention, and Money By B. Joseph Pine II
- The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company By Joseph Michelli
- Design Is Storytelling By Ellen Lupton