At The WXO, we want to connect the dots across the Experience Economy and across the globe – so each week, we bring you our round-up of the experiential stories that we think reveal something interesting, relevant or transferrable about the Experience Economy.
Welcome to the latest Experience Radar, where we’re enjoying the healing effects of psilocybin at a retreat in Brazil, choosing our own adventure in Netflix’s new rom com, and making sweet music with the help of AI.
1. Psychedelic Retreats Are On The Rise
With travellers increasingly keen to enjoy meaningful experiences during their leisure time, visits to psychedelic retreats are on the rise. Transformative, life-changing trips have become the travel Holy Grail, and these retreats offer the intoxicating prospect of a brain reset in safe surroundings, distilling a year’s worth of therapy into a few days and resulting in rapid and profound change. As reported by Condé Nast Traveller, the trend for psychedelic retreats is mushrooming around the world. Marrying science and shamanism, most are harnessing the power of psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in certain mushrooms, which has been used to treat everything from PTSD and OCD.
We recently reported on the opening of the Eugene Psychedelic Integrative Center in Oregon, the first psilocybin service centre to be licensed in the US. In Mexico, Buena Vida Psilocybin Retreats combine mushroom ceremonies with sound healing, yoga and breathwork, while Silo Wellness in Jamaica and Oregon includes microdosing and two ceremonies led by local Rastafarians. Alalaho in the Netherlands runs men’s, women’s and mixed retreats in a homely setting, while top tier The Journeymen Collective in BC is for high rollers. Dubbed “the Rolls Royce of psychedelic plant medicine experiences”, visits to the retreat start at £10,000 and include hiking and soaking in salt-water pools.
2. Netflix To Release Interactive Rom Com
The ‘choose your own adventure’ books you enjoyed as a kid are being reworked for adults, as Netflix releases what it claims is “the world’s first interactive rom com”. As reported by The Handbook, viewers can take control of the narrative in the film Choose Love, and decide how it ends. Inspired by Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, a 2018 film written by Charlie Brooker with multiple endings, Choose Love allows viewers to choose which paths to pursue as the film’s protagonist ponders who she wants to end up with.
The plot, which can go various ways, follows the character of 20-something recording engineer Cami Conway, who is in a steady relationship with reliable Paul at the start. During the film you get to guide her on her romantic path and choose between Paul, rock star Rex Galier, or old flame Jack Menna. During the film Cami breaks the fourth wall with Fleabag-esque pleas to the camera, asking the viewer to help her choose love. Netflix hasn’t revealed the number of possible endings, but it’s a fascinating premise that gives the viewer more autonomy over the direction of their entertainment.
3. AI Is Reshaping How Music Is Created
AI tech is reshaping how music is created by helping amateurs craft their own compositions. Heavy hitters like Google, Meta, Microsoft and Sony already have skin in the AI music game, which is poised to be worth $2.6bn within the next decade. Byte Dance, a parent company of TikTok, is currently beta-testing a new music creation app called Ripple that allows you to come up with a new track by humming a melody into your phone. Mayk.It, meanwhile, can do the job of composer, singer and sound engineer, correcting pitch, editing and mixing for the user in just a few clicks.
“We can help more people participate in music. We’ve done the work of going into the studio for you,” Akiva Bamberger, co-founder of Mayk.It told the Los Angeles Times. It’s an exciting development that’s breaking down the barriers to music creation and democratising the music industry in the process, redefining who gets to be an artist and a creator in the 21st century. Disrupting the category to its core, AI will shape the future of music, unleashing innovation, reframing creativity and unlocking new musical collaborations and art forms.
4. Fashion And Hospitality Are Fusing
The trend for fusing fashion with high-end hospitality has ramped up a notch this summer, as big name brands like Dolce & Gabbana seek to grab a slice of the beach club market with their DG Resort takeovers, allowing fans of the brand to live the D&G lifestyle everywhere from Sicily to Saint-Tropez. As reported by Vogue, from the Prada Caffé in London and the Louis Vuitton café in Osaka to the Fendi Beach Club and Givenchy’s takeover of Topping Rose House in the Hamptons, fashion labels are embracing the luxury hospitality sphere to deliver memorable branded experiences to their followers that engender loyalty, helping them to corner the special occasion market.
Targeting jetsetters keen to induce envy on the ‘gram, fashion brands want to be front and centre in the travel sphere. By collaborating with hotels, brands are capitalising on a captive audience with excess disposable income. “Fashion and hospitality are about storytelling – whether that story is about your sense of style, a destination or a brand,” trend forecaster Kendall Becker told Vogue. “Both industries rely on this to spark emotional reactions and purchases.” Making it easy is the fact that high-end hotels and fashion brands share the same high-rolling customers who are seeking money-can’t-buy experiences.
5. Space Hotel To Launch On Earth
We’ve followed the rise of space tourism – a $384bn market – with interest. In June Virgin Galactic launched its first commercial flight to space. The 90-minute suborbital ride aboard rocket plane Unity was streamed around the world. Now, UAE-based astronaut Namira Salim is planning to launch a new space hotel concept on Earth called the 0G Resort. As reported by BlooLoop, Salim will soon to fly to space with Virgin Galactic. Her 0G Resorts aim to provide an immersive experience via space-themed restaurants, space modules, a stargazing deck, shisha bars, clubs and luxury hotel rooms and villas.
The first 0G Resort in the UAE would serve as a global hub for millions of tourists, astronauts and space industry billionaires. Salim is currently searching for a location in Dubai or Abu Dhabi and an investor in order to launch the project. “0G Resort will cost a minimum of US$1 billion depending on the location and size of land secured. I have the best team of consultants who have submitted a proposal for a theme park, which, if added, will require a bigger plot,” she told BlooLoop. “These are individuals who build resorts for Disney and Universal Studios.” Canadian architectural design firm Moon World Resorts is also planning a $5bn space tourism experience and destination resort in Dubai.
6. Paris Hilton Launches Metaverse Experience
Keen to keep her finger on the pulse, socialite entrepreneur Paris Hilton has launched a metaverse experience called Slivingland on Roblox. As reported by Venture Beat, the entertainment hub is being targeted at Hilton’s 70 million global fans. Having been dubbed the “queen of the metaverse” by CNN, Hilton’s virtual world will provide her followers with a range of entertainment content including new music, podcasts, TV shows, films and collaborations with brands. The goal is to bridge the gap between Gen Z, the metaverse and brands by providing a platform for strategic activations.
“Slivingland is all about bringing my fans together to engage in a world of fun, fashion, and friendship. It’s a place where we can connect, create and live together in a new virtual universe,” Hilton said. A 20-strong team at Sawhorse Interactive, which has created metaverse experiences for Elton John and Tommy Hilfiger, designed Slivingland to be an immersive experience that embodies creativity, entertainment and collaboration. To kick off the launch, Hilton will host a metaverse concert on 25 August and will release ten limited-edition digital fashion pieces inspired by Y2K, including pink headphones.
7. Mattel Theme Park Will Boast Barbie Beach House
Toy maker Mattel is to open a new theme park in Arizona next year that will go big on its billion-dollar hit, Barbie. As reported by BlooLoop, the nine-acre Mattel Adventure Park will boast a life-size Barbie Beach House, which includes hologram technology to bring the iconic doll to life, as well as a rooftop bar and restaurant. The attraction will also be making a hero of Hot Wheels via two rollercoasters: the Hot Wheels Bone Shaker and Hot Wheels Twin Mill Racer. The former is an 84-foot-tall family coaster, while the latter offers a double loop and two corkscrews. Also on site will be a 4,500-square-foot laser tag arena designed to look like the Castle Grayskull fortress in Masters of the Universe.
“Construction is underway and substantial progress has been made on what will give fans of all ages a day of thrills and nostalgia,” said Julie Freeland, senior director of global location-based entertainment at Mattel. The theme park is a collaboration between Mattel and Epic Resort Destinations, a developer specialising in IP-driven location-based entertainment. “Watching the excitement build as these mega attractions are being installed in Glendale has been tremendous. You’ve never seen a park quite like this one,” promised Mark Cornell, president at Epic Resort Destinations.