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An Event Marketer’s Guide to Experiential Gift Giving

The holiday season’s approaching and you know what that means — gift giving. With consumers switching their spending from material goods to experiences, products — once the typical choice — are taking a backseat. In fact, when we polled our office, 90 percent of respondents said they’d rather receive an experience, and many are gifting experiences for their friends and loved ones as well. As experts in experiential, EA team members offer some insights into unique gifts.

The Globe Trotter – Caitlin Ferry

If you know adventure-seeking globe trotters, consider a location-specific experience that complements their travel plans.

“This year, I’m arranging for my parents to have an Italian chef prepare a dinner for them at their HomeAway apartment in Rome. Not only is it a chance for me to contribute to their trip, but it’s also a truly authentic way for them to experience local culture and cuisine during their vacation.”


The Daredevil – Suzanne L’Erario

We all know that adrenaline junkie. One week they’re skydiving in Switzerland, the next they’re bungee jumping over a waterfall. What better gift for this person than the chance to cross another thrill off their bucket list?

“My husband loves a good thrill, so this year, I’m gifting him the Richard Petty Driving Experience. He can choose from many race courses around the country for this experience, which includes donning the driver jumpsuit and helmet, a tour of the track and pit, a racecar driving lesson and actually driving the car around the track. It’s perfect for any car aficionados or just daredevils in general.”


The Music Lover – Edgar Ortega

Concert, festival and symphony tickets are a great option for audiophiles, but why not take it even a step further with lessons for their favorite instrument?

“My daughter loves music, especially the violin. She is eager to learn how to play and has been asking her mother and me for lessons. This year we plan to give her the experience of not only violin lessons, but also choosing all of the elements associated with it. We’ll let her pick out her violin, customize the case, choose where she takes lessons and decide which songs she wants to learn in 2019. We will also let her pick which family get-together will be host her debut concert. (I may need the gift of custom-picking my earplugs for the first 3 months of these lessons.)”


The Sports Fanatic – Sydney Howe

‘Fan’ is short for ‘fanatic,’ and that’s what a true sports fan is. They love watching games live, not just to cheer on their team, but also to share the experience with friends or family. Give them the gift of seeing their favorite player, team or even stadium in person.

“My dad has been playing hockey since he was three years old — and still plays to this day. With our last name being Howe, Gordie Howe of the Red Wings has always been his favorite player. We used to go to Red Wings games in Detroit, but couldn’t go as often after I left for school. This year I plan to take him to Little Caesars Arena for one of the games. It’ll be a wonderful way to spend time and relive shared memories together.”


The Fitness Freak – Eugene Juen

Their copy of Born to Run is worn and dog-eared and they definitely have an opinion on the barefoot running debate. Consider gifting them registration to a race in an exciting location, an upgraded gym membership or swag that complements their workout habits.

“My buddy and I ran the Chicago Triathlon together. So when he wanted to do the Mont Tremblant Ironman, I said I would too. We signed up together and are holding each other accountable for completing our training. A benefit of triathlons is they don’t require much gear, but this year I’m giving him a triathlon survivor kit — including a water bottle, energy gels, running socks, and athlete-friendly headphones.”


The Culture Vulture – Tessa Coan

These consumers of the arts and humanities love experiential gifts. Museum memberships, symphony tickets or an excursion to the ballet – gift options are endless for these culture aficionados.

“My grandpa loved opera — he would even make CDs of opera music for my sister and me. He’s since passed, but I love sharing his memory with my grandma. One of the ways we do that is by enjoying opera together. So this year, I’m gifting her either a trip to the opera or tickets to the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD.”


The Out-of-the-Box Thinker – Joe Pisanzio

Have a friend who likes to defy convention? Give them the experience of doing something a little scary and a tiny bit crazy.

“I recently took up circus/acrobat lessons and it was an incredible experience for me. I had no prior experience, but in the few months of doing circus/acrobatics, I can now do a handspring into a backflip on a trampoline. This sense of accomplishment is thrilling and something I want to share with my friends.”


The Adventurer – Elle Walters

For the adventurous soul on your list, help them explore their surroundings — or a new location — in a fun, original way. Think unique modes of transportation, sporting activities and interesting tours.

“My family loves spending time together in nature, so this year, I’m gifting them a cross-country skiing outing. What says bonding better than learning a new activity together in a winter wonderland?”


Wonder why people are raving over experiential? Check out our infographic for a quick download on The Value of Experiential Marketing.