Creating Value for Participants through Experience Staging: Parks, Recreation, and Tourism in the Experience Industry


  • Gary D. Ellis
  • J. Robert Rossman


Experience Industry, Guest Experience, Service Quality, Service Experience, Recreation and Tourism Management


Over the past three decades, significant new understanding of the importance of and techniques for optimizing participant, guest, and consumer experiences has been achieved. This accomplishment provides a wealth of information about specific strategies that park and recreation organizations in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors might use to fully engage their guests in meaningful activities that may build loyalty and commitment. Among the most widely read and influential books on guest and consumer experiences is The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage (Pine & Gilmore, 1999). Although the concepts and processes discussed in The Experience Economy are centrally relevant to parks, recreation, and tourism organizations, specific attention to potential applications has been limited. The 2008 George Butler lecture by J. Robert Rossman integrated that material with traditional concepts about programming and underscored the importance of this perspective to missions of park and recreation organizations. This paper builds on Rossman’s lecture by summarizing Pine and Gilmore’s integrative work. The paper also extends Pine and Gilmore’s technology for staging experiences for customers and guests by introducing a model for staging recreation experiences in a broad array of settings. The model proposes that staging of experiences requires attention to both “technical performance” factors and “artistic performance” factors. Within the former set are specific technical skills unique to the particular offering, along with two facets of customer service: setting performance and interpersonal performance. Dimensions of artistic performance include use of theme, features that provide multi-sensory experiences, and unanticipated value. The paper concludes with a discussion of implications of the experience economy and the proposed model for park and recreation management, research, and education.?





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