Experience Radar 8: Horror Shows, Planetariums And Swamp Motel’s Latest Drop

At The WXO, we want to connect the dots across the Experience Economy and across the globe – so each week, we’ll be bringing you our round-up of the experiential stories that we think reveal something interesting, relevant or transferrable about the Experience Economy.

Welcome to Experience Radar 8, where we’ll be checking out the latest launches from Swamp Motel and Boomtown’s Martin Coat, assessing the economic impact of Meow Wolf’s immersive extravaganzas, and reminding ourselves why time really is the currency of experiences.

1. Drop Into Swamp Motel’s New Live Experience

Swamp Motel’s The Drop Experience

Swamp Motel are now taking bookings for their new live immersive production, The Drop, which is set to run in London from 28 Oct to 31 Dec. Each showing has been designed for intimate groups of 2 to 4 people max who will “descend into the dark underbelly of modern day espionage to lift the lid on a centuries-old secret, taking on a leading role as the narrative unfurls in unexpected ways.”

(Want to know more about the award-winning entertainment company? Check out our case study on how they flipped from IRL to URL during the pandemic and our team’s review of their last online experience, The Kindling Hour.)

2. It’s A Horror Show, Come On Down

WXO Founding Member and Boomtown Theatrical Director Martin Coat is bringing The Veil of Despair to Hatfield House just outside London this Halloween. The “terrifyingly immersive experience” will see participants join the search for a missing child in the surrounding woodlands, confronting the “dark forces behind the Veil of Despair”. The event also promises a creepy cabaret, hidden street shows, food and drink traders, live bands and “a carnival camp like no other”. (Keep an eye out for our round-up of some of the best Halloween experiences, coming soon!)

3. Airbnb Appoints A New Head Of Experiences

Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky on why he’s “incredibly bullish” about experiences being the future of the company [06:30 onwards]

If you needed any more proof that the Experience Economy is the future, hospitality giant Airbnb has announced the appointment of ex-Disney Imagineer Bruce Vaughn as VP of Experiential Creative Product. Apparently his role will involve “designing and delivering more immersive experiences in the real world, including potentially new ways to host on Airbnb and exciting new offline experiences for guests, and leading the strategy and evolution of Airbnb’s Experiences business, as well as experiential marketing.” If Vaughn wants to get ahead of the game, perhaps he should check out Campfires 16 & 17: Experience Design Will Elevate Your Next Vacation, where we discussed how we might use experience design tools to create better holidays for all.

4. Embrace The Gathering Effect

We were interested to see communication strategist Lindsey Caplan describe herself as someone who “gathers people”, helping organisations “enhance the way they gather for the effect they want”. Caplan uses her background in comedy writing to script experiences for companies so they can better engage and retain their employees – what she calls “the gathering effect”. It reminds us of the conversation led by Joe Pine in Campfire 11: Staging Employee Experiences – a particularly pertinent use of experience design tools as we face “The Great Resignation” in the wake of the pandemic.

5. Time Is The Newest Experience Currency

Photo by Majid Rangraz/Unsplash

From WXO Founder James Wallman’s book Time And How To Spend It to Joe Pine’s assertion in Campfire 11 that:

“Services are time well saved, but experiences are time well spent. That’s what people are looking for. It’s what customers are doing when they’re paying you for an experience. Time is the currency of experiences.”

Joe Pine, author and Experience Economy expert

…we’re well aware that time is the greatest resource we have to play with as experience designers. So this interview with Ogilvy Experiences global ECD, Kaleeta McDade, makes for an interesting read. We agree with McDade when she says:

“Creating more time for living and not being ‘busy’. No one will get out of this ‘normal’, and no one wants our past reality to be normal. Time is the newest experience currency.”

Kaleeta McDade, Global ECD, Ogilvy Experiences

6. Meow Wolf Brings Home The Bacon

Meow Wolf Convergence Station

We’re already a little bit obsessed with Meow Wolf’s Convergence Station, which launched in Denver in September – head to our new WXO TV page for our focus on its brilliantly trippy promos and insightful behind-the-scenes videos. And our love is only deepened with this report from Forbes, which looks at the economic impact of Meow Wolf’s work. The estimated economic impact to the State of New Mexico of their Santa Fe project over 10 years stands at $2.5B to $2.9B, and the new Denver outpost is expected to have a similar effect by bringing in money for surrounding local businesses.

7. Are Dome Theatres The Future Of Film?

Orange Coast College in California is making its 129-seat Planetarium home to the first-ever regional 2021 Dome Fest West Film Festival and Imersa Days Conference from Oct 8-10. Dome Fest West will use 360-degree technology (much like virtual reality presentation) to introduce audiences and filmmakers alike to the next big development in film presentation — dome theaters. According to co-founder Ryan Moore:

“People are really wanting to see something new. VR headsets brought that for a little while, now we want to go back into the theaters. Well, let’s keep the immersive factor, but have the ability to eat some popcorn next to our friends.”

Ryan Moore, Co-Founder, Dome Fest West