Recently, business and personal travel took me to different destinations, both known for delivering great experiences for their guests: Las Vegas and New Orleans.
While I've visited each location previously, this time, I looked at things from a different viewpoint: a sales and marketing perspective. Specifically, I wanted to note how a city can deliver an experience. Then, how can I learn from that adventure to improve my customers' experiences?
I'm not a gambler, but Las Vegas offers a wide variety of things to do and see. The moment you step off the plane, it's clear you are in Vegas. You immediately hear the unmistakable sound of the slot machine. You listen to coins rattling in the dispenser. You hear people talking excitedly to their slot machines—all fun, all exciting, and all deliberate.
Vegas takes its lead on delivering experience from the master of all destinations: Disney. I call it "Experience Choreography." Disney is famous for it and the Vegas folks have learned well. Every sight, smell and sound is planned to enhance the Vegas Experience.
Every restaurant, show, casino, and hotel lobby is designed to structure patrons' time to create memorable experiences. Here's an example made by a nightclub. There was a lengthy line to get inside; the queue slowly moved as music boomed inside the club. A doorman gradually allowed people inside two to three at a time. I thought, "With a line this long, it must be a happening place!"
Finally, I made it to the front and was next to enter. I remember thinking the club must be packed like sardines in a can. Then, with my ID checked, I heard, "You can enter Mr. Skaggs." Once inside, my initial impression was: where were all the people? Of course, there were people inside, but nowhere near the fire marshall-capacity crowd I expected.
I then realized, looking through my "marketer glasses," the waiting line -- I'd just spent 30 minutes standing in -- was "created" to give the impression the club was exclusive and popular. Ah, ha.
Switch to N'awlins, as the locals call New Orleans, The Big Easy is known for Cajun cooking, Mardi Gras, eternal non-stop parties, craw-dads, and a little Voodoo charm. I took note of specific colors—yellow, purple, and green—adorning many accessory items, including hats, masks, beads and boas.
A marketer will tell you the prevalence of those colors was purposeful and deliberate, creating a color-coded branding for the community. And always, always, some Zydeco music in the background, regardless of where one is walking. There also seems to be a constant, underlying energy in the air. An attitude from every restaurant, street vendor, and hotel loudly asks, "Why would you want to be anywhere other than here?"
The point of my story is a question every person in business should ask: What experience do you provide your customers? Have you choreographed the entire process, from initial prospect and final sale to follow-up and, hopefully, new business referrals? Do you move your customers through a process by which you create and retain raving fans?
We all seek experiences because -- truth be known -- we are bored with being consumers. We want to be excited and mesmerized by the places we choose to spend our hard-earned dollars. We reward those businesses with our money and brag about them to our friends and family. We often return and invite others to come with us. If entire cities like Las Vegas and New Orleans can do this, then can't we do the same in our distribution businesses?