In a world of constantly changing technology and devices that connect to everything, people are demanding more: faster internet, better fuel economy, more reliable cell coverage, longer-lasting batteries — you name it. Architecture hasn’t escaped the crosshairs, with many building owners looking for ways to outfit their existing spaces and bring creative features into new buildings.

Experiential spaces are environments that draw an emotional connection to anyone who enters them. This connection generally happens through use of multimedia canvases, lighting elements, experiential audio cues, and interactive assets, which are threaded directly throughout the space.

Including these elements transforms ordinary places into brand destinations — a space where potential customers can truly experience a brand.

Netflix is capitalizing on the experiential space trend with its 24,000-square-foot FYSee space, where it’s creating an immersive exhibit to screen its original shows and host conversations with the shows’ stars. The streaming service is trying to enhance its chances of winning multiple Emmys for its shows. To enhance the personal, exclusive feeling of FYSee, Netflix isn’t saying publicly where the space is located and is only inviting industry professionals.

Fostering Growth and Development

Experiential spaces foster the growth and development of companies and brands. This can happen in just about any industry, but retail, corporate, and hospitality are three industries where experiential spaces can really leave a mark.

Many retailers are outfitting their stores with cutting-edge technologies, interactive art, and other elements that transform them into brand destinations. A good example is the toy store JouJou located in Salt Lake City, which features an installation of animated monsters triggered by motion. This draws people into the small toy store who might otherwise pass right by.

Experiential elements attract customers looking for immediate purchasing and those looking for the experience. This gives brands more chances to convert sales.

Nike and adidas are pushing the boundaries of experiential spaces within their retail environments. They’ve installed creative interactive pieces that promote well-being and allow customers to try out their athletic wear in a in-store experience that mimics a real-world experience. Adaptive lighting, large video walls tied to endless runner-style game controllers, and guided fitness platforms also encourage actual shoe use in the store. It’s all about the experience.

Engaging Customers and Employees

In corporate environments, experiential spaces are tied to a couple of important objectives: telling a story in a meaningful way and driving a culture. In both scenarios, it’s about leveraging technology and creativity to bring an otherwise dormant space to life as well as engaging customers, employees, or both.

A good example of this is the lobby of Nexteer Automotive’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The company included state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge technology, and collaborative spaces to create an engaging brand destination for both visitors and employees.

Employee well-being is directly tied to productivity and performance. Experiential spaces and more enjoyable environments make employees feel more engaged, productive, and happy.

The rise of boutique hotels has been steady, and according to Tourism Economics, about a quarter of new rooms under construction are for boutique hotels. These hotels are much smaller than traditional chains, generally less than 150 rooms, and almost every one offers some type of unique experience. Because many consumers are now experienced hunters, traditional hotels often don’t make the cut, especially when an alternative option exists that provides a better sensory experience.

YOTEL in New York City offers a Euro-modern and futuristic take on hotel stay. A robotic arm (the kind used in automotive manufacturing) will take your luggage and store it for you in a beautifully strange vending machine way in place of a traditional concierge. The entire facility is gently lit and comes alive at night with a subtle pulse. The tight integration into the architecture and the connection back to the brand story make these elements feel a part of the building.

Before You Go Experiential

Before you decide to upgrade your space to be more experiential, you must outline your existing space and decide your end goals. Are you looking to tell a story to drive sales, to promote or enhance culture, or just to create a different atmosphere? Understanding what your goals are drives the design of your experiential environment.

You also need to consider your current environment. How much room do you have? What needs to be added? As an example, in a high-brightness area like a storefront, you would likely consider LED as a visual canvas over other options.

Having a firm grasp of what upgrades you want to make will let you decide how interactive the additions need to be. If there is an interaction, what’s the desired outcome? Whether the environment will be reactive to people should be determined upfront. This will drive the type of creative output during visioning.

Once you’ve decided to embrace experiential spaces and transform your drab space, here are three steps that will help achieve your goal.

1. Determine your objectives.

To create a successful experiential space, you have to have a plan. What do you want to communicate? Who are you trying to reach with that message? You need a concise, unified message and a clear objective before things fall into place.

2. Do your homework.

Research other spaces, especially those created by companies similar to yours. See what you like, and take notes. Having a strong grasp of what others are doing will be a good reference point and provide a new perspective. You can incorporate things that would also work for you and rule out what won’t.

3. Get creative help.

Enlist the assistance of a creative to help you realize your vision — or how to create your vision. This could be someone on your team, an architect, or a company that specializes in creating experiential spaces. Outsourcing this can help you make quicker decisions and be more efficient, seeing as these groups already have the tools in place to make your vision a reality.

How could an experiential space enhance your brand? Careful planning and having clear goals will help you create an experience customers will crave.