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  The Herman Trend Alert

January 6, 2021

Access is the New Currency

Last week, I was sitting with General Manager Ben Berdejo of the Doubletree Mazatlán, Mexico (yes, in-person and masked) and I was talking about solutions for their challenge that their domestic guests think of their location as a weekend destination. I suggested a series of midweek events, similar to what my friend, Janis Clapoff, GM of The Lake Austin Spa Resort did pre-Covid-19 by having authors and artists in residence with a multi-day series of events for guests. I explained that the key is "access" to the celebrity. That started me thinking about how celebrities are selling experiences and the reason people are willing to pay (handsomely, I might add) is access. And that thought led me to write this Herman Trend Alert for you, because, as I came to understand. . . Access is the new currency!

Starting at the beginning of my thinking. . .
When I first encountered the wonderful pianist Jim Brickman, he was selling all kinds of experiences. I even wrote an entire Herman Trend Alert about the different packages he sold. You can read it here. Not only did I write about his experience offerings in the Trend Alert, but I also included it in my new book, Experience Rules: How Positive Experiences Will Drive Profit Into The Future. What I now recognize is that the draw to spend hundreds of additional dollars is access. It makes us feel special (read "positive experience") to be close to or interacting with a celebrity---or even someone who works with him or her.

Access is really important to all stakeholders---some more than others
For those of you who are new to the Herman Trend Alert, I define a stakeholder as "someone who is invested in your success or the success of the organization." Experience Rules (the book) covers the importance of delivering positive experiences to all of your stakeholders---not just one or two categories, like customers and employees. So the trick is to figure out who your stakeholders are looking for access to. Though I am still thinking through all of these answers. . .come with me on a brief journey.

Employees want Access to their Leaders
At least in cultures where class consciousness is not so prevalent, employees want access to their leaders. When I asked the employees of a public sector organization what might be meaningful for a reward, given that the government agency had no money to reward them for their outstanding work, one of the answers I got was "breakfast/lunch with the head of the agency or her #2." In other words, they valued access.

Sponsors want Access to People They Want to Attract
When we think about why companies engage in corporate partnerships with events, it is to have access or at least influence on their potential customers---people who can buy their goods and services---or at least affect the purchases. Sweeten the deal with extra perks like the list of attendees or a cocktail party with the speakers (there's that access again!) and you have a winning combination.

One More Example, l Then I Am Done
As the Co-Chair of the Subcommittee on the Student Management Consulting Awards of The Institute of Management Consultants, I was brainstorming with my very capable co-chair and committee members late last year. We were talking about the value to the students submitting applications of having a mentor member of IMC USA; in other words, contact with an experienced consultant for guidance. Then, we were talking about selling naming rights for the program to a consulting firm who would like nothing better than to have connections to the best and the brightest student applicants. The value proposition to both groups was all about having access.

The Intersection of Access and Experience
Giving people access is one way we can create a positive experience. In fact, the access and perhaps the anticipation of it as well, is a positive experience, in and of itself. Yes, I'm still thinking through all of the nuances of this topic. As I get further along, I will share more. I hope you have enjoyed this foray into my thought process and thank you for bearing with me as I shared my insights.

Next Week's Herman Trend Alert: Small Business Hacks for Pandemic Success
Many of us have struggled, while others have reinvented themselves to become more successful than ever before. From the local tour guide to the management consultant turned Zoom coach to the restaurant chef who delivers vegan meals in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, folks have come up with novel ways to pivot during this Pandemic. Tune in next week when we explore some fascinating solutions.

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