As I go back through my life and reflect on the businesses that are considered experiential they seem to all have one trait in common, that they were the first do so in their market. Starbucks suddenly turned the humble coffee into a $5 normality in ‘everyday luxuries’ and Lululemon made the $180 legging seem acceptable. If we go further back into history we have the Fairmont Hotel group, who seem now to be 5* luxury hotel in major cities all over the world but that actually was created in year 1907 with the intention of helping people experience the great Canadian outdoors whilst enjoying the experience of being indoors. What seems important then is simply not only who they served but the context in which they served, the context of the ecosystem, the times, the technologies. After each movement, the experiences, in some way becomes normalised. It now normal to spend $5 on a coffee, normal to spend $180 on a pair of leggings and I am sure most business and luxury travellers are in some ways, are now numbed by expectation. Does heritage carry us through? Perhaps, but I feel only for so long, until we have to find new emotionally resonant ways to connect.
Words by Natasha J. Hussein