BY Joe Pine

Introducing Experience Platforms

experience platforms

Not that you were waiting for it, but here’s the first joke I ever came up with (sometime in elementary school): what do you get when you cross a centipede with a parrot? 

A walkie-talkie!  Ok, I didn’t say it was a good joke…. 

But, now, what do you get when you cross the ideas in The Experience Economy with those in Platform Revolution? Experience platforms!

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Thankfully not as corny, but much more meaningful.
For Platform Revolution, by Geoffrey Parker, Marshall Van Alstyne, and Sangeet Choudary, is the book on how platforms are revolutionizing so much of commerce today – even more so since the corona crisis hit – and The Experience Economy is, well, chances are you already know all about experiences as a distinct economic offering.
What you might not know is how important experience platforms have become in today’s Experience Economy.

Studying Experience Platforms

When Harvard Business Review Press published the re-release of our book in late 2019, Jim Gilmore, Doug Parker, and I celebrated with our LaunchFest event in Cleveland. One of the participants was Peter Evans, the Managing Partner of the Platform Strategy Institute, who works with Professors Parker and Van Alstyne to advance the ideas and practices of platform strategy. Peter talked to me about how he was seeing more and more experience platforms out there – something that I had been noticing as well. 


Experience Platforms Strategy Toolkit

So we decided to start investigating the phenomenon, did a webinar on it (see the Experience Platforms YouTube channel), and then started a multiclient study with participants from around the world. We conducted the study from February to June 2021, with customized reports for each participant, and now we’ve released a shorter, standard version of our findings as the Experience Platform Strategy Toolkit. Everyone interested in learning how to design, create, and enhance experience platforms should take advantage of the lessons Peter and I learned.

Defining Experience Platforms or XPlatforms

In the toolkit, we define experience platforms, or what we have come to call XPlatforms, as “A business that enables value-creating interactions between customers and experience stagers.”
We provide examples of platforms for experiences both real (Airbnb Experiences, KKday, etc.) and virtual (Grubhub, Decentraland) and show how very much they’ve grown in the past 25 years.

A New 4C Model on Value Creation

And we explore exactly how XPlatforms create value, including a new 4C model that shows how they can go beyond the base function of connecting guests and experience stagers to. . . . Well, you’ll just have to buy the report to learn what the other three Cs are!

Platform Logic, Design, Metrics & More

We have a section on Platform Logic, Design, & Metrics that will get any experience stager up to speed on how platforms work, and one on Platform-to-Platform Integrations, a great way to extend the reach of any XPlatform. The Toolkit includes a section on exercises that you can do for your own business on how to create value for guests through a Value Wheel framework; how to map your complements that strengthen your platform; and how to design an XPlatform MVP (minimal viable platform) that will get you started. 

The XPlatform Database

The XPlatforms Database

Also included in the Experience Platform Strategy Toolkit is the XPlatform Database, information on 100 experience platforms and complements that will show you the breadth of the field around the world, all the different types of them (including some that go beyond experiences to transformations, as we recently wrote about in the Harvard Business Review, “The ‘New You’ Business”), and the many reasons that companies get into the XPlatform business. (One key insight: companies should stop doing loyalty programs that bribe people with free stuff they were already buying, and instead turn them into experience platforms as Delta, Marriott, and Mastercard have effectively done.) 

In-depth Case Studies

Finally, Peter and I prepared four in-depth case studies of companies that embraced and succeeded with experience platforms. Two of the cases, Carnival Ocean Medallion and Virgin Experience Days, are IRL (in real life) platforms and the other two, Grubhub’s Sound Bites and Amazon Live & Amazon Explore are virtual platforms. Each case provides a perspective on key direct and indirect benefits created by offering experience platforms as well as qualitative and quantitative information on the value created by each XPlatform.

Jumpstart Your Success

Any company that today runs an experience platform or that thinks it should or could be in its future should buy our $299 Experience Platform Strategy Toolkit. It can jumpstart your success in this fast-growing sector of the Experience Economy.

Watch our webinar Lessons from 7 Top Experience Platforms, presented in concert with The NTWK.

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