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PEOPLE Joe Pine & Jim Gilmore The gurus who invented the concept of the experience economy share their vision


They wrote the manual on themed experiences, and 15 years later Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore are still creating inspiration for businesses looking for authentic ways to attract consumers. They talk to Julie Cramer.


It’s been almost 15 years since authors and business partners Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore penned the title The Experience Economy – Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage – and defined a new economic phenomenon.


At that time in the late 1990s, themed


restaurants and giant amusement parks might have been the most popular ‘experi- ences’ being sold to the public. However, Pine and Gilmore were able to cut through the layers to identify and articulate a trend that has today become embedded across many sectors – from computer companies like Apple to individual entrepreneurs. Pine says: “When we wrote the book in 1999, we talked about it as the nascent ex- perience economy – we couldn’t quite say it was here but you could see the elements. “It was growing faster than the agrarian, industrial and service economies and was going to overshadow them. Now it’s here – the predominant source of growth and job creation and primary economic offering.” Pine and Gilmore’s first collaborative work has since been translated into 16 languages. In 2011, the edition was


32 LEISURE HANDBOOK 2014


Pine and Gilmour have made their reputation writing about experience


updated to reflect the new influences from technology and social media, and draw on many more examples of what customers now consider an ‘experience’ and how businesses go about creating them. The main premise of the philosophy is that “goods and services are no longer enough,” and all businesses must learn to “orchestrate memorable events for their customers that engage each one of them in an inherently personal way.” Gilmore adds: “Services are delivered on demand and are transactional, while experiences are staged over a duration of time. With services, people want to spend less time with you – they want to get out of the dry cleaners, the car wash or the


grocery store as fast as they can. But when it comes to experiences, time is really the currency – it’s all about how customers can spend more time with you.”


A hotel, for example, can either be an experience or just a service, depending on how it’s offered to customers, as well as how they perceive it. Are guests paying for the time they spend in the hotel, or merely for a bundle of activities to be performed?


THOUGHT-PROVOKING Pine and Gilmore are far from being academic theorisers – they’ve spent the past 15 years of their business partner- ship working with companies across North America and increasingly across the world – advising them how to apply a range of principles to stage engaging experiences. Under their consultancy brand, Strategic Horizons LLP, they undertake speaking en- gagements, offer workshops, run a global certification programme, create ‘learning excursions’ for individual companies and lecture at colleges and universities. Their flagship product is the annual thinkAbout event, which takes place in a different city each year and is personally designed by Pine and Gilmore to bring del- egates a highly interactive, immersive and thought-provoking two-day tour around the ‘Experience Economy’ of a chosen city. Since its inaugural event in Gilmore’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio in 1998, thinkAbout has taken followers of the


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