What makes a good offline experience?

7 June, 2017

Whether a one-off or part of a larger event, what we want is a standout experience we can talk about online, says Sam Bompas.

“Everyone wants to be the hero of their own adventure these days,” says Sam Bompas who with Harry Parr, are leading experts in creating multi-sensory experiences for companies including developers, retailers and major food brands.

Ten years ago the two friends launched Bompas & Parr at the London Festival of Architecture with the Architectural Jelly Banquet. This comprised over 1000 individually lit jellies designed by architects from around the world, including Foster who submitted a ‘wobbly bridge”.

Invited to create an experience for this year’s London Festival of Architecture launch, whose theme is memory, the pair decided to make St Paul’s Cathedral jellies and a breathable banana ‘cloud’ – normally the cloud is made from alcohol but this was a morning event.

Bompas & Parr is also opening up its south London studio  so visitors can enjoy some of its “gastronomically, immersive and flavour-based innovations” from the past decade.

“People now want something extraordinary to happen to them” says Bompas, who points out that an experience is far more powerful than giving people a goodie bag.

Experiences like Beyond the Waterfall, that transformed part of Westfield London by creating the ultimate grotto, also create a direct connection with your audience that is difficult to replicate online.

How an event performs online has become almost as important as the event itself because social media reach leads to sales, explains Bompas.

“When we do an event we always have a photographer and videographer”. Photographs are signed off and photoshopped – “ so people look even more gorgeous’ – while the event is still going on. This is so images can be enjoyed and shared immediately because their shelf life is limited.

But at the end of the day memorable events still rely on certain key ingredients.

“We’ve done a lot of research into the history of parties and in 400 years humans haven’t changed that much, says Bompas. “Nudity, live animals, great music, performing acts are the things that people continue to enjoy and talk about.”

Events where things are not only happening but are participatory also encourage people to linger.

“If you can create an experience that lasts over a couple of hours, you can give people a lot more complex information than you can if they just pop in for 20 minutes”, says Bompas.

For events where the client has something to sell this is crucial and he choses Argent as an example of developer who commission one-off experiences as  part of its marketing strategy.

“How they (Argent) use culture and experience to shift property now extends over the industry as a whole.’

Enter this year’s Archiboo Web Awards- Best Memorable Experience.

Top tips for a memorable experience.

  • Always ask far more people than you want to come.
  • Choose a small but interesting space so people talk to each other.
  • Play music at over 80 decibels because it stimulates the sacculus, an organ in our inner-ear that encourages dancing.
  • Bring in ‘exchange mechanisms’ for drinks so people feel they have earned a drink rather than taking it for granted.
  • Have a tight theme and a ‘reason to go’ such as fancy dress.
  • Think about an experience that photographs well so it can be shared online.
  • Hire a good photographer and videographer.
  • Upload pictures while the event is happening.