2024 Letter to the Members

January is my favourite time of year.

Inspired by the two-faced god Janus – after whom the month is named – it’s a time to reflect on How Far We’ve Come, and look forward to How Far We Hope To Go.

How far have you come in the past 365 days? What worked? What did you achieve? What did you learn? How far do you hope to go in the next 354 days (because I’m writing this on 11 January, 11 down, 354 to go…)?

The WXO achieved some important milestones in 2023

  • Growth: 500+ members in 35 countries
  • Live events: 50+ Campfires in 2023 (now 170+ since launch)
  • Catchup videos: 66 Campfire talks now available on-demand
  • Co-created the inaugural World Experience Summit with our members; attended by 230+ people from 15 countries (profiled as “Best of 2023 – Case Studies in Event Excellence” by NY-based Skift Meetings)
  • First IRL Campfire
  • Re-launched new, better private members community site: engagement, connections, collaborations up
  • To build the next generation, launched Emerging Talent & Student membership
  • Launched the Emerging Talent & Student Campfires, & they became WXO PlayLabs
  • 7,000+ page views to the WXO Black Book
  • Grew the team, including our first Marketing lead and first Operations Executive
  • Broke even for the first time, in two of the year’s months (quite a relief for the person whose debt this is currently built on 😉

We also learned a lot

  • Don’t try to do too much at once. (Because, really, you can’t.)
  • Just as Ernest Hemingway said – “The first draft of anything is shit.” – so perhaps the first attempt at many things is often not what you’d hoped for. (But that’s OK, pick yourself up and try again. Exhibit A by the way: our attempt at a private members site in 2022.)  
  • Everything takes longer than you thought it would. (Ha!) 
  • Organizing a first ever event will eat your life. (But your family will talk to you after. And, anyway, it’s worth it.)

2024 will be an even bigger, and more importantly, better year. 

  • Our aims begin with Connection: to connect ever more people across the experience sectors and around the world. 
  • To hold another 70+ swinging, inspiring, practical Campfires & PlayLabs on the Art, Science, Business of Experience:
    • to expand the experiential toolkit, by shining a light on emerging, exceptional, innovative, and surprising practice;
    • to define best practice and the future of the Experience Economy
  • To co-create and co-curate our second World Experience Summit from June 12-14 in the United States. Save the date!
  • To continue supporting the industry, through creating Experience Industry Standards:
    • to share the work of the ROX Taskforce and create industry standards that measure, show and prove the value of experiences. 
    • to certify experience / experience creators with the launch of X Corp Certification
    • to launch / support further WXO Taskforces: on accessibility and DEI&B
  • To foster greater learning, connections and collaborations via more Playlabs, as well as via:
    • WXO Action Learning Sets, small groups who continue Campfire conversations
    • WXO Chapters, based on location
    • WXO Collectives, based on sector
  • To support members holding live events, eg Odyssey Works’s workshop 
  • To define the future of the Experience Economy and the WXO via the first, agenda-setting WXO Future Of Experiences White Paper
  • To reinvigorate our strategic direction with the launch of WXO Future Council 2024 and the WXO Next Generation Council 2024.
  • To secure the long-term future of the WXO, by raising a first investment round.

All of this, we believe, will help fulfil our mission: to raise the profile and status of, and spend on, experiences; and play our part in building a better  world.  

Which reminds me: we’ve also been working on the WXO’s mission and manifesto. At present, we think the ultimate aim is captured in the phrase “Joyful Economy“.

Just as materialism and the Consumer Revolution transformed standards of living for billions of humans from the 1920s to the 2020s, so we believe that experientialism and the Experience Revolution will transform quality of life from the 2020s to the 2120s. 

The role you play here is simple: When you make better experiences, you’re making better moments for people. When all those better moments are added up, they contribute to Better Lives. 

The role the WXO plays here is simple too: When we make connections across sectors and geographies, we enable the sharing of small, medium and large ideas – tips, tools, techniques, technologies. When that sharing and those connections happen, it leads to incremental and radical improvements in experiences. 

So, by connecting people like you – the designers, creators, operators, investors – the makers and shakers of the Experience Ecosystem – we’re enabling better Monday mornings, Tuesday lunchtimes, Thursday evenings, Friday nights, weekends, holidays, vacations. We’re having a greater impact on people, society and the planet too. As we upgrade leisure time, work time, home time, all time – you, me, we – together, we’re creating Better Lives.

The journey to this ‘experience moonshot‘ really begins, of course, with you, and the work you do. The connections and learnings that happen at the WXO – at the WXO Campfires and PlayLabs, on the WXO private members’ site, at the Summit, in the follow-on Zooms and IRL meetups and work collaborations – should enable you to be more confident and better in your work. It should help you make better experiences, have more impact, and make more money.

So, here’s to 2024, and here’s to every one of us, working hard to make Better Experiences, Better Moments, and Better Lives – creating a truly Joyful Economy.

James Wallman, January 2024, London, England