MUSE : BLOG

Why the old ways of selling experiences don't work

Traditional e-commerce, marketplaces, and booking tools were made for selling 'things' not experiences.

The old ways don't work, because they weren't made for you.

In 2014, Lisa and I co-created Rise – Europe’s leading snow sports and music festival with 5000 attendees.

We had to stitch together ineffective tools, manually track bookings, pay third-party booking fees, and invest heavily in custom solutions. It became clear to us that we experience creators deserve better! We need tools that are specially designed for us. 

That’s why we’re building Easol. It’s the platform we wanted for our own experience business and so much more! Today, hundreds of experience creators across festivals, wellness, food and drink, sports, and adventure, use Easol to manage and grow their experience businesses. 

We did this by addressing all the challenges we had as experience creators with existing tools – e-commerce platforms, booking tools, and experience marketplaces.

Traditional E-Commerce is not designed for selling experiences

Platforms like WordPress, Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace seem like good options for experience businesses at first glance. But while they’ve been around for a long time, have the ability to take payments, and create custom websites, they simply can’t handle the complexities of selling experiences.

Problem: They’re made for selling things, not experiences

Traditional e-commerce cannot take payments as deposits, instalments, or group bookings. They can't manage individual flight times, dietary restrictions, or accommodation preferences. They can't organise SKUs as days, nights, room types, dates, or add-ons. 

They’re made to sell things, not unique experiences like yours.

Solution: Sell days, nights, weeks, hours… 

With Easol, you can sell any unit you can think of: days, nights, weeks, seats, room and board, paddle-boards, entrées, and more. Go big, small, global, local, virtual. Anything's possible. 

Have an experience that runs on multiple dates? Easol allows you to seamlessly sell and manage recurring experiences as a series – perfect for ongoing events, classes, and activities. Check out our Bayou demo for an example.

Not only can Easol handle any type of experience, it can also manage modifiers so you can provide even more options for customers, such as departure dates, start times, food preferences etc. You can even upsell customers with extras and add-ons increase basket value. See the checkout page on our Lucid demo for an example.

Problem: Existing website builders and booking platforms don’t talk to each other

Because traditional e-commerce platforms and website builders aren’t designed for selling experiences, most experience creators need to adopt multiple tools to make it work the way it needs to. You’ll find many businesses spread over a website, a booking platform, and sometimes even a handful of marketplaces. 

Not only does this lead to hours spent on tedious, repetitive operational tasks for you, it’s also a terrible experience for customers who are forced to navigate different platforms to purchase different experiences.

Solution: Everything in one place, working together brilliantly

From now on, you don’t have to worry about manually working your business across clunky channels. With Easol, everything – the website, experience products, bookings, and payments – is all managed in one place. This frees up time for you to nurture your passion and focus on more important things for your business, like sales and customer service. 

Easol also enables your customers to purchase everything including experiences, accommodation, add-ons, food and beverage, all in the same checkout. They’ll have a much better time buying from you and you’ll be rewarded with much higher conversion rates.

A fully integrated system means you can also launch and sell new experience products at lightning speed. No more bouncing back and forth between platforms to get new experiences out in the world.

Problem: Collecting guest information is a hassle

Traditional e-commerce tools are bad at collecting guest information beyond shipping address and contact. From flight times and medical conditions to emergency contact information, you’re either forced to manually chase customers via emails and phone calls or create lengthy forms at checkout that drag down conversion rates. Manual data collection is also prone to errors – the last thing you want is to mix up important details like dietary preferences or pick-up times.

Solution: Automatic info collection and reminders

Using Easol, you can automatically remind guests to send you the critical information you need to run your experiences smoothly. And you have full control over how you want the information to be received. 

Collect information one week after purchase or one week before departure time, whatever is most convenient for you. Plus, you won’t have to make your customer trudge through gnarly forms at checkout to make a purchase. A win-win for everyone.

Problem: Inflexible payment experience for customers

In most instances, customers won’t want to pay in full for something 6-12 months away. And unlike flights or other dynamically priced products and services, there isn’t much pressure to book now before prices go up. The lack of payment options is inconvenient for potential customers, and is bad for your business’ cash flow. 

Solution: Payment plans and deposits

Watch your booking conversions soar by offering customers flexible options – pay with deposits or payment plans, individually or in groups, in their currency or yours, and more.

Flexible payment isn’t just great customer service, it can also be a huge sales booster. Envision Festival, for example, saw 90% of their customers book with payment plans, which allowed them to multiply their revenue by 6x in 2020!

Problem: Custom quoting is a headache and manually intensive

To provide that personal touch that customers love, many experience creators turn to custom quotes. The problem is that because traditional e-commerce and website builders are disconnected from experience products and booking, you often have to manually generate a quote for specific enquiries. We’ve seen experience creators spend half their days simply making custom quotes. 

On top of all the work that goes into simply producing the quote, sending a PDF will almost always require an additional nudge to get potential customers to move from the document to the checkout. Quoting the traditional way is simply not streamlined for operational efficiency, nor is it optimised for conversion. 

Solution: Custom quotes, straight from your website

Send your customers pre-built baskets, with a personal message ready to book instantly. As a fully integrated, all-in-one platform, Easol’s custom quotes pull directly from the same experience and accommodation offerings on your website and direct customers through the same checkout as well. Our recommendations can be sent as a link or embedded in an email, allowing your potential customer to review the quote and purchase in one seamless step. 

Our friends at Unplugged have generated 75% conversion rates on custom quotes and reach their business goals in their first year of launch – read their story here.

Marketplaces own your brand, your data, and your customers

Experience marketplaces promise they'll make it easy for customers to find you. They ask for a big slice of the pie in exchange for making it bigger. But these marketplaces, like Airbnb, Booking.com, and BookYogaRetreats, control your brand, your online experience, your data, your insights, and your customers. In reality, it's their pie and they can take it whenever they want.

Problem: Little to no control over online presence 

Marketplaces control the online presence of your business. They force you to sell your experiences on one page that looks like everyone on the marketplace. This makes it hard for you to stand out compared to competitors and leads to slashed prices for differentiation. It creates a race to the bottom, and leaves experience businesses in a constant struggle to maintain margins. 

But marketplaces don’t just dictate how you present your brand, they can also decide where you rank on search engines and bid against you, causing you to be buried in search results. If SEO is a major sales channel (as it is for many creators), this can become a bottleneck for your business growth.

Solution: Your website, your domain, your brand 

Regain full control over your brand, on your own domain name. This allows you to fully customise your website and lets your story take center stage. Easol also has smart SEO tools to help you build and maintain the search rankings for your own website.

Need help making your brand and website shine? We have a community of Easol Experts, from designers and branding specialists, to developers, ready to help make your experience business’ online presence become the best version of itself. 

Problem: Marketplaces and booking platforms steal your data

With full access to what potential customers search on the platform, how they interact with different offerings, and who they are, these data insights are used to optimise the marketplace. And often what is best for the marketplace and what is best for your experience business are not aligned. 

That’s what happens when experience marketplaces use your customer data to serve optimised ads for your competitors. 

Solution: Own your data

With Easol, you are the only entity that owns and has access to your business data. You never have to give your customer data to anyone, so you can power your own growth and leave your competitors in the dust. Your business is your business.

Booking Tools create an awful customer experience

Booking tools, like FareHarbour, Retreat Guru, and Eventbrite, get paid by holding you and your customers hostage. They require payments to be handled on their terms and on their websites, so they can justify excessive booking fees and steal all your customers' data. It's not a crime, but it sure feels like it.

Problem: Booking tools take customers away from your website

Most booking tools redirect customers away from your website to their own platform. It’s a poor customer journey that decreases conversion rates and limits basket value on purchases. 

Solution: Checkout on your website

Allow customers to book on your website with a checkout designed to help increase basket value and drive your sales growth. With Easol, potential customers can purchase experience, accommodation, add-ons (equipment, transport, extra activities) in one smooth process. It ensures an increase in average basket value and boosts revenue for your business. See our Vagabond demo's checkout page for an example.

Especially now with privacy concerns in tech, keeping your customers on your website throughout the checkout process is the only way to avoid a dip in the performance of your advertising. 

Problem: Mandatory booking fees

If you use any third-party booking platform, then you’re bound by the booking tools’ fees. As experience creators ourselves, we never liked these fees because they either cut into our margins or forced us to pass it onto our customers without any value-add for them. These fees simply never sat right with us.

Solution: Sell on your terms

With Easol, you control the booking fee. Charge what you want, or pass on the savings to your customers. The decision is entirely up to you, as it should be.  

The new way of selling experiences is here

We’re on a mission to make the first Experience Commerce platform that puts the technology, the ownership, and the possibilities in your hands. With Easol, you’ll finally have a platform that’s specially designed for selling experiences. Manage your entire experience business all in one place. Make any experience, anywhere. Sell on your terms. Grow your business, fast. 

Forget the old ways, it’s time for Experience Commerce.

Ready to get started? Book a demo with us today to see how we can handle the details, while you focus on the dreams.