What We Learned At The World Experience Summit 2024

“Presence is the beginning of every experience.”

So declared Enrique Enriquez, a thought-provoking philosopher who set the tone for our second World Experience Summit on June 12-14, 2024 in New York City.

And as we come back down to land, we’ve been thinking about what it meant to be genuinely present as a community, and the experience we created together.

We’ll be bringing you our report of the top insights and trends that emerged from the week soon – but for now, here are 16 things we learned about presence, experience, and cultivating community IRL.

1. Memorable venues matter.

Last Night Party at ARTECHOUSE. Photo by Robert Carlo

Okay, House of Yes had some issues with flow – after all it’s designed as a nightclub, not a conference venue! – but novelty is key to stimulate the senses and wake up the memory. The exceptional ARTECHOUSE, where we had our Last Night Party, and The Stranger, where we went for our After Party, prove this point.

2. New York City is itself an immersive experience.

A WXO team at Beat The Bomb on the Experience Safari. Photo by Omar Serna

There’s no more immersive experience than reality, so finding ways to get out in it – via the Local Lunch and Experience Safari (reviews coming soon) for example – is pivotal.

3. Shared experiential moments create conversation and community.

Paul Bulencea & collective, in partnership with Google Xi. Photo by Robert Carlo

Think Google Xi in partnership with Paul Bulencea’s immersive keynote; our Sound Healing session with Steve Boyle, Taran Gong & Andrew Hoepfner; Mishawn Nolan and Heather Gallagher’s dance party moments; White Mirror’s salutogenic soundtrack; and Baba Brinkman’s rap-up of our first day (see the video here).

4. Hidden surprises are also delightful.

Experiential lunch by Emilie Baltz & House of Yes. Photo by Robert Carlo

Think Enrique Enriquez’s clandestine conversations; DARKFIELD’s audio-immersive pop-up; George Berlin’s hidden artworks; the (not so) Secret After Party; and a head popping up underneath the salad bowl in the HoY & Emilie Baltz’s experiential lunch.

5. FOMO is sometimes an uncomfortable emotion.

New Narrative Forms workshop with Gwen Loeb, Christopher Morrison & Stephanie Riggs. Photo by Robert Carlo

…but we think it’s an important one to design for at a Summit representing 24 sectors, a global industry, and diverse voices from all corners and all levels of seniority (but next year, we’ll record all sessions for attendees only. No hybrid. We’re staying IRL).

6. Nothing beats meeting your fellow tribespeople IRL.

Arrivals at this year’s Summit. Photo by Anastasiia Davydova

We love the magic of Zoom for Campfires that make it easy to connect people around the world. But uniting our community of “misfit toys” and experience nerds in person was something special.

7. Allow for interludes & leave space for co-creation to happen.

In the open networking space in the garden. Photo by Anastasiia Davydova

We made a good start on this with the networking garden, trips to food trucks, and of course the awesome Unconference – and next year we’re planning for more space, and more opportunities to vote on the sessions you want to see.

8. Anti-hierarchy! Share the air!

An unprogrammed, spontaneous “Unconference” session. Photo by Robert Carlo

We love the C-suite, big-name keynotes, and those who’ve climbed the ladder. But in a community bursting with experts, great ideas come from everyone when every voice is valued.

9. All hail the creative and the commercial!

Creative, Meet Commercial session. Photo by Anastasiia Davydova

Experience experts loved the mix of storytelling sessions vs panels where people felt vulnerable enough to discuss numbers.

10. Safe spaces open hearts and minds.

Fiona Rene’s interactive workshop. Photo by Robert Carlo

Vulnerability is not only cool, it leads to real conversations and connections – and that helps us all move forward and emerge better.

11. Lickers lick! Swimmers swim! And watchers watch!

The crowd at this year’s Summit. Photo by Anastasiia Davydova

You have to design for all layers of participation if you want to cultivate belonging.

12. The experience industry is at the forefront of everything.

Leigh Sachwitz accepts the World Experience Award for Tech from Heather Gallagher. Photo by Anastasiia Davydova

The value of the Experience Economy is set to reach $2.1tn by 2032 – and both inside and outside of sessions, brilliant ideas across the Art, Science, Business, Tech & Impact of Experience were flourishing. Our first World Experience Awards winners represent the pinnacle of this – check them out here.

13. Embrace the chaos!

A dance-along during Mishawn Nolan’s talk, “The Dance of the Deal”. Photo by Robert Carlo

While things should definitely function, there’s beauty in keeping things loose, too – particularly when you have a chaos-matic leader at the helm (😉).

14. But it takes a dedicated team to hold it all together.

Summit Scholarship volunteers Kseniia Blokhina, Anisha Mukherjee & Naeema Mohammed Sageer. Photo by Anastasiia Davydova

A massive thank you is due to not only our in-house team, but our Scholarship volunteers who helped make everything happen.

15. In the words of Heather Gallagher, “The struggle is real!”

Heather Gallagher during her talk “The Transformative Power of Burning Man”. Photo by Anastasiia Davydova

But it’s also worth it – nothing worth doing ever came easy.

16. And in the words of Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Sound Healing with Steve Boyle, Taran Gong & Andrew Hoepfner. Photo by Anastasiia Davydova

Good or bad, we hope we made you feel something!

THANK YOU to all who came, contributed, and made this year’s event one to remember.

Join us in London for the World Experience Summit 2025, April 29 – May 1. Tickets and more info coming very soon…