The future is here! And the online marketplace now allows anyone to sell anything on the Internet. From antique pieces to breakthrough inventions, plus every type of quirky service imaginable, all types of products are for sale somewhere on the web. Where is the virtual frontier, and what does it have to offer?
Quickly and ubiquitously, the experience economy is emerging. The concept of buying and selling experiences from each other– private cooking classes, immediate house cleaning, and overnight stays and makeshift bed and breakfast inns — has not only created new niche markets and businesses to serve them, but has also affected current companies who find themselves adjusting to a brand new economical exchange rate.
How does the new experience economy affect your business?
1. Community Counts
The experience economy affects my business because I’m a storyteller and experience creator. Since media is shifting to digital platforms, there are new and exciting ways to integrate content into digital platforms, like the iPad and video game systems. I think consumers are starting to expect more from companies, in the way of holistic experiences versus individual transactions. This presents a great opportunity for innovative companies to find creative ways to add value through things like community, rewards and upsells.
2. Power is Being Decentralized
The experience economy is a catalyst for the decentralization of power in many experience-focused industries. Platforms like Airbnb and Skillshare help distribute power to a new genre of service providers, while providing consumers with a new world of possibilities.
These models aren’t only experience-centric; they also promote the sharing of resources, which is a concept that can completely transform the way we do business. Today, more than ever, it’s possible to convert a skill or asset into a product or service. For example, Airbnb allows you to make some quick cash by converting your home into a B&B. With Skillshare, you can commodify your knowledge, skills and talents. My startup JoynIn rewards you for going out with your friends — our primary focus is to create incredible experiences for people by rewarding them for their influence. All of these services are ways to trade a new type of commodity for something of value.
We all have something to trade, barter or sell, and we now have niche marketplaces that give us leverage to transact. Just as eBay changed the game when it comes to selling physical products, platforms that sell experiences have a chance to change the way we think of products and services — all while redefining entrepreneurship once again.
3. Companies Are Staying Nimble
I’ve seen the experience economy in full effect as the Director of Product at Zaarly — ultimately, the creativity of our users has been what has impacted our business the most. People are using Zaarly to rent snowboarding gear, pet sit or test-drive someone’s car. And that creativity has led us to expand our ‘recommendations’ to incorporate all of those ideas and suggestions that users have. We’ve had to keep nimble, really listen and observe our users, since they are the ones coming up with the best ways to leverage the experience economy — and we are working to give them a platform to do just that.
4. Consumers Have More Control
The new experience economy has been a net gain for my business, Great Black Speakers Bureau, as we’ve seen a surge in the amount of speaking engagement requests for our roster. Social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube do initially generate interest for our speakers, but ultimately, the customer wants to see the speaker in person.
This new sharing economy has also made information more widely available to the customer, even if it’s not from the company directly. Long gone are the days where a bureau can charge whatever they want to a customer, simply on the basis that the customer had no clue how much a professional speaker should cost. This puts the customer in control of the buying process and has lowered the prices that speakers can expect from the marketplace.
5. Create Experiences, Not Things
The new type of economy survives on the fact that people like to be a part of something. People want to experience things instead of purchasing things. The invitation to “join an experience” is a common theme in experience economies like Kicktable and SideTour. People are joining these communities as a means of sharing what they’ve seen through pictures and videos, and planning their next experience.
I have definitely noticed the trend, even in my online publication and personal branding industry. Digital Talent Agents is moving into creating online video articles for our clients as a limited means of playing into the experience economy. People get to physically view experts speaking on their specialties. My personal branding and online publication industry may not fit into the experience economy nearly as neatly as SideTour does, but we are still taking notice of the trend and designing new ways to attract these consumers.
Maitree Laipitaksin via shutterstock
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.