Nine Keys to Staging Experiences

Our mission is: To create products and experiences that inspire people. We do this by not just spewing out facts and details, but by telling stories and creating memorable experiences for visitors to our museums, nature centers, outdoor interpretive media, zoos, visitor centers, cultural exhibits, community artwork and more. We use an interpretative planning approach. J.B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore described in their books and articles how to stage an experience. We often refer to their research to inform our creative process. Here are the nine steps they recommend in staging an experience.

  1. Create a rich portfolio of experiences – create a series of related experiences that flow one from another.
  2. Use experience hubs in locations where people naturally congregate.
  3. Create a flagship location – a singular place where you stage the very best, most dynamic experience.
  4. Integrate physical and virtual experiences.
  5. Theme the experience. The theme must drive all the design elements and staged events of the experience toward a unified story line that wholly captivates the customer.
  6. Harmonize impressions with positive cues – render the experience with indelible impressions. Impressions are the “takeaways” of the experience, they fulfill the theme.
  7. Eliminate negative cues. Ensure the integrity of the customer experience by eliminating anything that diminishes, contradicts, or distracts from the theme.
  8. Mix in memorabilia. Certain goods have always been purchased primarily for the memories they convey, a physical reminder of the experience.
  9. Engage the senses.

I look for these things when visiting places. I often note signage that gives obvious directions, e.g. turn this knob. I see that as a negative cue. It’s not the Apple way where the design is intuitive. I look for a variety of experiences: kinetic, visual and audio. I remember themes. I often use virtual experiences to enhance my visits, e.g. google maps, sending photos to friends, Facebook…. I often buy memorabilia. I have a refrigerator covered with magnets from various places.

Where have you seen these nine staging experiences?

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