The Power of In-Person Experiences

Last night I went to Manchester, NH to see New Kids on the Block, Boyz II Men, and 98 Degrees. While I went because of my daughter, it was a fun concert. There was a ton of energy throughout the Verizon Wireless Arena that stayed strong for more than two hours.

B2M98D nkotb

My take: This experience made me think about the power of in-person events. These pictures were taken by my mobile phone and quickly uploaded to Facebook. Yes, the world is being taken over by digital media, from computers to mobile phones to a plethora of other connected devices. But all of the digital media in the world could not replace the power of being in that arena with all of those other people as these bands performed.

In-person events are uniquely powerful experiences. I’ve really learned this lesson with the Customer Experience Professionals Association. While we reach a global audience with our online resources, there’s a unique experience that happens when our members come together. That’s why there’s so much passion around our 20+ cities with local networking events and our annual Members Insight Exchange. It was as clear as ever during my participation in a recent CXPA event in London.

It turns out that there are some key characteristics of in-person experiences that are not easily replicated in any other type of interaction, some of which I capture in the acronym SPACE:

  • Spontaneous: People react to each other in real-time
  • Passionate: Energy gets magnified across the group
  • Accessible: People tend to lower their guard
  • Connected: Shared experience makes people feel more connected
  • Engaged: People become more fully immersed

The bottom line: Digital interactions will continue to grow, but in-person experiences will always have their unique SPACE

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

2 thoughts on “The Power of In-Person Experiences”

  1. Bruce, I wholeheartedly agree with you. There’s often nothing that substitutes for a live in-person experience. Being a musician as well, I can totally relate to what you’re saying here. I’ve watched streaming live performances on my iPad and while I appreciate the opportunity to see a performance I might not otherwise have been able to attend, it’s just not the same.

    Consider what you are saying here in the context of education as well. The trend in higher-education is toward MOOCs, short for massive open on-line courses. My wife teaches a MOOC at a locally well-known and established institution of higher learning and from all I’ve heard, both the student and the professor but lose out in this process. It lacks the personal touch. It’s sterile. At times, it’s boring. And, students really don’t get to know their professor and vice-versa.

    Yes, more degrees are being cranked out at record rates and more “education” is accessible to more and more people, but you have to wonder what the end result of all this massive on-line learning is. More people with a $100,000 degrees working at McDonald’s or unemployed??? I’m old enough to recall that time when the objective of going to college was the pursuit of learning and the only option was the live in-person experience. Great photos, by the way…!!

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