The Experience of a Lifetime

PROVO, Utah – Sep 25, 2018 – Attending fencing school in France with an Olympic medalist. Paragliding through the Swiss Alps. Rowing gondolas down the canals of Venice, Italy. As students traveled overseas this summer on the Experience Design and Management Study Abroad, they learned how to best design events by participating in numerous once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

“We gave students the opportunity to learn and have experiences so we could apply the principles of experience design to the staged experiences that were being offered,” says Professor Brian Hill, who accompanied the students on the trip. “We participated in some of the most unique experiences of any study abroad I’ve ever been on.”

A favorite staged experience that students participated in was gladiator fighting. While in Italy, the group learned about Ancient Rome by “fighting to the death” in the ring. “Having such a ridiculous experience early on in our trip helped us to bond,” says Shelley Bushman, an ExDM senior from Overland Park, Kansas. “We were laughing the whole time.” 

The trip also offered opportunities to meet with business executives and learn from their knowledge of the ExDM field. While in London, the group visited the Lego Store to speak with the regional manager about how the company takes advantage of experience design principles even in a retail setting.

“I have a new wealth of knowledge to draw on that comes directly from the real world,” Bushman says. “We learned this knowledge straight from the mouth of the customer experience executive at LEGO and also from visiting historical sites such as those in Rome.”

Another interesting factor in the study abroad was its focus on research. Students acted as both evaluators and subjects in four different research projects that involve collaborators from BYU and other universities. The studies measured engagement in dark tourism, the connection between emotion and experiences, the impact of service quality on customer loyalty, and the correlation between absorption and experiences.

After paragliding, bike touring, Segwaying, and participating in other activities, students filled out a number of different surveys to test the four research focuses. To prepare for the research and business aspects of the trip, students took an international business course before leaving and worked on projects and assignments while on the trip.

“I’ve learned volumes sitting in classes at BYU Marriott, but nothing compares to going out into the world and seeing how what you’ve learned in class compares to what companies are doing in your field,” Bushman says.

ExDM students
Study Abroad students visited tourist attractions all over Europe.
Sunset in Italy.
A student reps the Y at the Colosseum.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sydney Zenger