To the Point

The Prize Is Inside

How the same old, same old can be made new again.

When you visit Kellogg’s NYC, the brand-new restaurant just off Times Square in Manhattan, you’ll find cereal taken to a whole new level — with concoctions such as

Frosted Flakes with lemon, pistachio, and thyme. Guests can select a unique spin on a classic cereal, or choose to build their own mix from a variety of cereals and add-ons, such as fresh peaches, almond butter, and green-tea powder. When you make your own creation, you open the doors of what looks like a kitchen cabinet to find grocery bags filled with ingredients.

Completing the experience in the hip but homey space is what you probably liked best about eating cereal as a kid: Each order at Kellogg’s NYC comes with a prize. Some prizes are small, like a temporary tattoo. But some are big. Really big — like tickets to the blockbuster Broadway show “Hamilton.” You never know what prize you’ll get until you pick up your order or open your grocery bag.

The Experience Economy is on full display at Kellogg’s NYC, and the early popularity of the concept proves that people are willing to pay $7.50 or more for a bowl of cereal with toppings and an added helping of nostalgia and excitement.

So, how can we in the meetings and conventions industry apply this model to create similar experiences at our events? How can we turn seemingly ordinary aspects of our meetings into must-try experiences?

You — and your stakeholders — may think a poster session is just a poster session.  But what if you turned it into a game that encouraged attendees to visit as many posters as possible?

Awards banquets also often fall into the same been-there, done-that formula.  What if you mixed it up and allowed attendees to nominate each other for a few pop-up awards on the spot? I can say from our experience with the PCMA Education Foundation Visionary Awards that it’s not always easy to reinvent an awards event that comes with a lot of history, but it is possible.

When it comes to sponsors and exhibitors who want to reach attendees, what if the interactions were based on experiences instead of sales pitches? If you want to give out incentives or award attendees, what if the prizes were one-of-a-kind experiences, like a behind-the-scenes tour of an iconic local attraction or a cooking class with a famous local chef?

The truth is, there’s more educational content online now than people can even keep up with. Suppliers can reach customers through a wide array of marketing mediums. And social media makes it easier to network with people than ever before. But people are craving face-to-face experiences that help them learn, grow, and truly connect. The increasing popularity of board and card games, especially among Millennials, shows we want that human contact; we want to experience things together. It’s up to us in the meetings industry to provide those opportunities and to make each experience fresh.

Out in Front
In the Experience Economy, the consumer is in charge. But every great experience is made possible by a talented cast of characters working behind the scenes. In this, our fifth annual Best in Show issue, we’re nudging some of the professionals who are integral to the success of events into the limelight. 

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.