One of the phenomena of the experience economy, or probably more aptly called experience culture, is that the human desire for novelty means the moment you open a community-leisure venue (CLV), including all types of FECs, it's getting old. Satisfying that human desire for novelty is the challenge.
As humans, we crave exploration, adventure and discovery. And today one feature of that is we have a strong preference for collectible experiences. Whereas in the past we tended to collect things, today for a large segment of the population, especially 20- and 30-somethings, its about the satisfaction of having possession of an experience and adding it to our resume of experiences, to our Experience CVs. Having done a thing is something we get to own for life. And one benefit of collecting experiences is that by telling friends, sharing it mostly on social media, we gain social capital and bragging rights as well, especially if it was unique.
So once we've had an experience, it's all about moving on to another new experience to add to our Experiential CVs. Been there, done that doesn't stack up to have as much appeal anymore.
Researchers speculate there is another motivation feeding the development of our Experiential CVs. Today, with our time pressured lives, so much to do and so little time to do it, we want to feel productive about our leisure activities. We don't want to feel lazy or like we're wasting our precious leisure time. So if we are engaged in a leisure activity that at the same time allows use to ‘check off' items on an ‘experiential check list' and build our Experiential CV, we feel more productive with the use of that time.
Since CLVs typically have many capital-intensive attractions and entertainment, offering new and novel experiences to drive repeat visitation is a serious challenge - been there done that, time to move on to a new collectable experience. It's not like in the past, where our out-of-home leisure experiences were far more limited. Today, there's always some new experience to check out.
And as part of those many out-of-home experience options, food and drink has suddenly moved to the forefront. Visiting a restaurant has now moved into the experience category. That's why there are so many food porn photos on Instagram and other social media. People are adding dining and drinking experiences to their Experiential CVs.
Food and drink has a distinct advantage when it comes to driving repeat visitation. Offering new eating and drinking experiences does not require new capital expenditures, it only requires new recipes and plating presentations. There are millions of options for LTOs (limited time offerings).
To drive repeat business at CLVs, the food and drink experiences have now become an anchor attraction, perhaps the main attraction, more so than the entertainment, as it offers the opportunity on each visit to collect and share a new experience.