Crafting Experiences That Stir the Soul

At the Skift Global Forum, one entrepreneur shared her blueprint for making mini vacations into rich learning opportunities — and her approach speaks volumes for event organizers.

Geetika Agrawal

In 2015, Geetika Agrawal launched Vacation With an Artist (VAWAA), a vacation program that allows users to book “mini apprenticeships” — multi-day, one-on-one encounters with international artists of all types who are considered masters in their field.

At the Skift Global Forum held in New York City, Sept. 27-28, Agrawal described what some of the program’s clients have accomplished: “Marlene flew from Amsterdam to Buenos Aires to work with one of [the city’s] most prolific street artists. During her time, she was introduced to Buenos Aires’ street culture and also other street artists. During that time, she got so into the culture that she was invited to paint a mural on the streets of Buenos Aires,” Agrawal said. Another program participant, Alexandria, “fell in love with print-making during her first VAWAA,” she added, “and is now on a mission to learn print-making from all print-making masters around the world.”

Agrawal chalks the program’s success up to the fact that it provides memorable, individualized experiences — something that many people are keen to embrace as often as possible. “As a society, we’ve learned that for long-lasting happiness, we want to be part of experiences that help us grow,” Agrawal said, “and become better versions of ourselves.” Agrawal’s mission is no different from what business event strategists aim to accomplish every day — connect attendees with experts, and make moments that are unforgettable. Here is what Agrawal described as being part of  VAWAA’s “DNA” when it comes to crafting powerful experiences:

1. Instead of an escape, VAWAA provides immersion. “We’re looking for experiences that fulfill us,” she said.

2. Instead of asking users to consume, VAWAA allows users to create. “We’re looking for ways to get out of our comfort zones, challenge ourselves, so we can learn and grow,” Agrawal said. “We don’t want to be just consuming stories, we want to create our own stories.”

3. Instead of just connecting users with locals, VAWAA fosters lasting relationships. “We want to build deep connections with people we meet,” she said.

4. Instead of creating a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience, VAWAA aims to create what Agrawal calls “lifelong” experiences. “We want to feel that our experiences are curated for us, individualized for us, and give us the time to do the things we want to explore,” she explained. “We want to be part of experiences that have a lifelong impact on us.”

Casey Gale

Casey Gale is associate editor of Convene.