• Experience provoking elements in...

    ted toussaint

    5 years and 3 months

    Experience provoking elements in the outdoor sector

    CREATING MEMORABLE EXPERIENCES

    Experience provoking elements in the outdoor sector.

    Ted Toussaint, Ruben Walravens, Steven Vos.

    Fontys University of Applied Sciences – School of Sport Studies, The Netherlands

    INTRODUCTION

    The consumption of valuable experiences has become increasingly important for individuals in current society. The Outdoor Recreation industry could aim at fulfilling this need by creating memorable experiences in the outdoors. As many outdoor companies offer the same type of activities (e.g. canoeing, abseiling, mountain biking), being able to manage and design experiences becomes increasingly important to differentiate from competitors and achieve competitive advantage. Though research has revealed and applied experience provoking elements within a range of contexts, surprisingly little attention is paid to the application of these elements within the outdoor industry, a sector which can be a huge experience generator. Fontys School of Sport Studies has conducted a study aimed at developing a model with experience provoking elements applicable in an outdoor context and subsequently operationalising these elements into different measurement tools to determine to which extend these elements are present within a specific outdoor company.

    METHODOLOGY

    Desk research, in combination with interviews and expert meetings resulted in a conceptual model with five experience provoking elements: program, interpersonal skills of employees, authenticity, theme and co-creation. Subsequently, a questionnaire and an observation tool were constructed to determine to which extend these elements were present within an outdoor program. The questionnaire consists of 70 items, distributed among the five experience provoking elements. Each item is scored on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from present in a very low degree to a very high degree. To gather data from a guest perspective, a questionnaire was developed to measure the memorable experiences of guests.

    To this moment, 13 companies participated in the study. Different employees of each company filled out the questionnaire for the program the company was most proud of. The programs chosen are programs consisting of no-risk activities with a clear theme and story line. Observations were carried out by three observers as a mystery guest. After the observation, guests filled out a questionnaire, based on the 10 characteristics of a meaningful experience.

    RESULTS

    Results show high averages on all the experience provoking elements. This means that employees think they apply the experience provoking elements in the chosen program to a high degree. However, when we compare the company questionnaire to the observation data, we see differences in three out of five elements: program, interpersonal skills and co-creation.

    Programs hardly have a surprise element or positive ending and there is no flexibility within the program to adjust the activity to the competency of the guest. The difference in interpersonal skills is remarkable as most Outdoor companies mention the interpersonal skills of their employees as the element they are most proud of. However, these companies regard good interpersonal skills as being able to give a correct safety brief at a service level. These briefings lack any personal contact with the guest and are exactly the same for every guest. Guests are told what to do without any rapport building or individual value creation. Co-creation is hardly visible during the programs. The guest is not seen as the expert on his own experience and has little input or control.

    CONCLUSION

    Though focus group meetings indicate that Outdoor companies see interpersonal skills of their employees as the most important factor for creating a memorable experience, little attention is paid to developing these skills in depth during in service training. Beside this, the application of experience provoking elements is mainly done by the company using a product perspective while the point of departure for creating value needs to be the individual, the guest and his personal experience. This demands a new innovative way of thinking where creating value for guests starts with a focus on the individual instead of the organization.

    Want to know more or participate in the research?

    Contact us at: inspirience-sporthogeschool@fontys.nl

    Share this article