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I woke up like this: the future of Experiential Marketing is the sleepover

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Would you like to spend a night in the Star Wars universe?

You wake up, flawless

Post up, flawless

Ride round in it, flawless

Flossin on that, flawless

I woke up like this

- Beyoncé: Flawless (2013)

See, what Beyoncé has done here is unknowingly plot a road map for experiential marketing’s future shrewdly-disguised as a pop ditty about self-empowerment.

The song’s crowning declaration - “I woke up like this” -  is bold statement that has been adopted by millennial Instagram-driven culture as a rallying cry to showcase makeup-less faces, un-retouched selfies and bedhead. More than just a hashtag, it reflects a shift in visual aesthetics towards authentic and unvarnished vulnerability.

How can we as marketers use this as a potential roadmap to the future of the experiential industry?

Simply put, we should focus less on creating Insta-baiting selfie honey-pots and instead take a cue from Queen Béy and create authentic experiences that allow visitors to check-in and be truly authentic and vulnerable. The key to doing this lies in breaking down the well-worn experiential model of having various photo opps that guests are shuttled through.

Instead I propose creating so-called “stay-able” experiences wherein guests can take off their shoes and stay a while (most literally) and eventually, in the words of Béyonce, ‘wake up like this’.

Get comfortable

Think of it as The Museum of Ice Cream meets a hip boutique hotel. I believe that if we offer spaces that are comfortable and hotel-like we can erase the usual self-inflicted pressure created by experiential pop-ups  —  the gnawing feeling that I have to capture as many pictures as possible from the best possible angles before moving on to the next room of the experience and the next room and so forth.

I believe this new approach could have a potentially transformative effect on experiential marketing as a whole — travel photography is quickly becoming a cottage industry among influencers on Instagram and hotels are already providing plenty of Insta-fodder from wanderlust-inducing balcony views, room service trays and over-the-top amenities and hotel perks.  The #hotels tag on Instagram has over 21M posts at the time of this writing. Instead of courting Influencers and sending them across the globe to promote your brand, why not instead create an unforgettable branded travel experience within reach?

The other benefit of “stay-able” experiences beyond Instagrams and word of mouth is also the sleep itself  —  a good night of sleep has been scientifically proven to form new neural pathways to help learn and remember information. A recent Harvard study found that a good night of sleep improves acquisition, consolidation and recall.

Just sleep on it: Acquisition, consolidation and recall

Sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information. Although the exact mechanisms are not known, learning and memory are often described in terms of three functions.

Acquisition refers to the introduction of new information into the brain.

Consolidation represents the processes by which a memory becomes stable.

Recall refers to the ability to access the information (whether consciously or unconsciously) after it has been stored.

It’s my entirely non-scientific theory that by luring potential consumers into a space where they are immersed in a brand and feel safe, calm and relaxed we as marketers can introduce our products in a way that naturally binds itself to memory and coaxes the brain into being more receptive to recalling the brand in question.

While these theories might sound out there, I believe our industry is already showing a few forays into this territory:

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: Disney’s highly-anticipated addition to Disneyland and Disney World that allows Star Wars fans & families the opportunity to spend the night inside the Star Wars Universe.

W Village Experience @ Coachella: The W, created a unique, one-of-a-kind experience for their SPG and Marriott Rewards members during Coachella (Weekends 1 and 2). W created four luxury yurts, made to resemble W Hotel properties in Bali, Hollywood and Barcelona, and Dubai: The Palm (set to be the first W Escape in the Middle East). Marriott Rewards and SPG offered members the opportunity to bid their points for the chance to stay in one of the four yurts.

Dan Ortiz is director of global strategy and innovation at Think Jam