Trend expert shares advice

Daniel Levine to business owners: Market to customer's values

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— Travelers want vacations that have meaning, Daniel Levine told audiences Thursday at the Economic Summit.

Levine, an international trends expert with AvantGuide Institute, offered insight and encouragement to businesspeople. Steamboat Springs is ahead of the pack, he suggested, because it already appeals to people's values. Travelers no longer are looking for just experiences they can brag about to their neighbors, Levine said.

"What people are looking for is value-packed, meaningful experiences, and the idea here is it's not just about the experiential economy anymore," he said. "It's about the meaningful economy."

Levine's company employs about 8,000 people around the world as trend spotters. Their job is to nail down what people are doing and what they want. He uses that information to build trend reports.

"What we need to do is know what the trends are and then answer the trends, answer the demand in a creative and innovative way that will get people to say, 'Hey, I want that,'" Levine said.

In his talk Thursday, Levine used Sept. 15, 2008, as a benchmark for when consumers started changing their ways. That was the day Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

"People talk about that as being the beginning of the recession : there's been a huge shift in how people think and feel and relate to their money since then," Levine said.

Levine pointed to four trends that make up the new meaningful experiences economy: personal growth experiences, creative experiences, community experiences and green experiences.

He used examples such as a Toronto hotel with an apiary on top, a Web site that provides a guide to the best graffiti in Berlin and New Zealand's ad campaign that tells people "if you go to New Zealand for nine days, you'll get your life back."

He encouraged businesses to create meaningful experiences and to remind Steamboat visitors that they help the community.

Businesses should say, "'Hey, come to Steamboat Springs and you will be helping this many people, you will be helping the economy generate this much money.' : I think that would be a very powerful message," Levine said.

He gave advice about how businesses can use the trends to build their customer base.

"How do we turn these trends into action?" Levine said. "Well, first, incorporate unexpected elements into your experience. Surprise and delight. It's got to be something unexpected and new."

Levine offered a list of advice:

- Offer more than experience. : Give it meaning.

- Think about the experience in terms of making memories.

- Create an experience that offers personal satisfaction.

- Enhance the learning opportunities in your product offering.

- Deliver meaningful experiences that truly are unique.

- Use the language of these trends in your marketing.

- Use customer feedback to learn what is working.

- Stay on top of trends.

- To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234 or e-mail bterrell@steamboatpilot.com

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