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Student Experiences

Thriving through Experiences

The BYU Marriott School of Business welcomed the international Experience Research Society (EXPRESSO) for its third annual Seven Experiences Summit in the fall 2022 semester. More than 100 people from eight different countries attended the society’s first in-person event, including participants from the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Austria, India, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.

Brian Hill, Mat Duerden and two student planners--Melissa Andrew and Audrey Young--organized the first in-person Seven Experiences Summit.
Photos courtesy of Mat Duerden.

Six speakers presented at the conference, each from a different expertise in the experience design field. Keynote speakers included Jim Gilmore, the author of The Experience Economy; Aga Szostek, the author of The Umami Strategy: Stand Out by Mixing Business with Experience Design; James Wallman, the CEO of the World Experience Organization; and Sonia Rhodes, the founder of the Experience Lab, a company focused on healing healthcare from the inside out.

With the conference theme of “Thriving through Experiences,” presenters explored how individual experiences determine the extent to which both individuals and organizations thrive. EXPRESSO’s goal is to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration with people in the experience design field. As such, the conference provided opportunities for researchers and professionals to collaborate and discuss connections between experiences and thriving.

Attendees enjoyed listening to six different speakers at the conference.

BYU Marriott professors Mat Duerden and Brian Hill, who also serves as the chair for EXPRESSO, worked with two student planners—Melissa Andrew and Audrey Young—to tailor this year’s conference to both professionals and students. Students in the experience design and management (ExDM) program joined in listening to keynote speakers and exploring different niches of Utah culture. “We created the opportunity for 30 students to attend the conference in person and made several keynote lectures available to all of the students in the ExDM program,” Duerden shares. In addition to attending lectures, students presented their own research in the form of paper posters during a poster session, where conference attendees walked around and interacted with the research groups.

Being in person also allowed participants to catch a glimpse of the array of activities Utah offers. “As an experience design conference, we wanted to make the event itself an experience,” Duerden says. During the three-day conference, the event organizers provided opportunities for attendees to explore the natural beauty and local flavors in Utah. “For example, we took a scenic mountain van ride up the canyon during the conference to see the fall colors,” Duerden shares. Over the weekend, people also chose between hiking at Sundance, going on a taco crawl around Utah County, attending the BYU football game, and canyoneering at Capitol Reef National Park.

Kevin Dulle, owner of strategy consulting company Experience Innovations, created visual summaries of each keynote speaker to share as memorabilia with attendees.

The excursions offered at the conference helped build bridges and create shared memories among participants—an essential goal not only for experience designers in general but also for EXPRESSO as an international organization. “The activities were awesome in terms of the networking and opportunities they created for our students and other attendees,” Duerden observes. “The whole event validated the importance of creating a space for experience and design researchers to come together.”


Writer: Liesel Allen