Aaron Wong


Experience as a Product


My favorite product is an experience because experiences matters.
In my case, I fell in love with an Airbnb Secret Concert in the Mission District.


Why does experience matter?

The value of a product is wrapped up in its potential to the user. A product conveys an emotion from before the consumer buys the product, the actual buying experience, the use of the product, and finally to the when they're done using it. Every touchpoint evokes an emotion and creates an impression. It is through these small impressions, that we craft in our minds our opinion. This concept translates into everything we use from our toothbrushes to our cars. A successful product is like a well-orchestrated symphony, harmonizing amongst all the players to create a cohesive tune. From the customer perspective, everything that goes behind the making of the product is part of the magic, from technology and materials, to customer support and supply chain. Every technical, functional, or aesthetic feature should come together to bring delight. 


The Magic

Managing the customer experience or the customers expectations is not an easy task. From understanding the customer; their entire journey through the product life cycle, a good customer experience requires the magic to be envisioned, planned, and coordinated. It is human-centric and decisions are made from the user's point of view. Designers must understand the user's pain points, its complexities, preconceived notions, and underlying nuances. Then, products must be strategically competitive and produce benefits for the consumer. From the beginning of the narrative, to the end, the marketing of the experience tells the story of what benefit consumers might get if they buy their product. It takes a lot of alignment for multidisciplinary teams to converge and create one cohesive message through an end-to-end life cycle. A successful experience has numerous moving parts, and that alignment is what makes the product sing.


Designing Human Experiences

I've been a fan of Airbnb for a long while. I've studied its benefits and its gaps, I've stayed at multiple Airbnb's around the world, and I've had reach out to its customer service for refunds and more. So why was the Secret Concert my favorite experience? 

  1. It worked cross-industry and included different perspectives.
    The secret concert was marketed as an intimate night at an undisclosed location. It was a joint effort on a pop-up venue in an unusual space, hosted by Airbnb users, and attracted people from all corners of the world. Walking in, I felt the excitement of a live TV game show provided by the hosts, but in this atmosphere also lived a aura of familiarity due to the dimly lit cafe environment.
  2. It was continuously engaging.
    Walking in, we signed our names on a banner including 3 fun facts about ourselves. We then wrote on a name tag, the first album we bought. We talked to strangers, learned something new, and shared something about ourselves within minutes after meeting someone. It was magical getting to know small musical details about other people who were all here to enjoy good music.
  3. It was iterative and complementary.
    Throughout the night, I kept building new memories; small fun facts, or things that the artist said that soaked into my head. All my interactions facilitated by the event designers built onto the next interaction. There was never a stuffy moment, nothing rigid - everything was scripted to be in line with the atmosphere they had created that night. I met  a lot of great people that night.


Aaron Wong