Gifting an experience sounds strange, especially to a generation of people bred on things of value rather than the value of things. Swastika Jajoo explores how to make a career in creating experiential gifts
Most people choose timeless editions of watches, coffee mugs, handbags, or perfumes as gifts. The banality of clichéd gifts makes itself evident; soon, you realize that you are the not-so-proud possessor of vapid photo frames, cutlery sets and clocks. The idea of gifting an experience is originally a European concept and is relatively novel to India. It’s pretty simple, actually: you’d rather strike out items on your bucket list than your wish list. “Experiential gifting is still picking up in India, but research shows that experiences bring more happiness than possessions do,” says Rohit Saxena, founder of Exciting Lives, an online gifting portal in India. “People want to be seen as different and unique, even while gifting, and there’s no better way to do it than hand over an experience package.”
CRAFTING AN EXPERIENCE
Imagine an experiential gift that allows you to make Belgian chocolates under professional guidance, instead of a simple chocolate box. The added value which an experience brings is not time-bound; it lasts. But if creating such an experience for a living – listing down ideas, finding the perfect combinations, negotiating prices and logistics – sound like your raison d’etre, then maybe a career in experiential gift curating is ideal for you.
Here’s an astonishing titbit: according to the American Express Estimates, the gift market in India is valued at more than $30 billion annually. The spread of social media and the digital space is probably giving this industry a great boost in India today. Giveter, the popular web portal for gifting experiences, uses social media to shortlist the perfect gift. “It connects with your Facebook account in order to synchronize the background details to find the recipient’s Facebook likes and preferences,” says Gift Guru Palak Jain.
As a gift curator, your job is not only in assisting people to personalise their experience packages, but also looking into every detail and negotiating the best deal. From spa therapies to exotic dinners, pottery classes to skydiving, an online catalogue of experiences makes it simple for customers to pick and choose as they wish. Saxena tells us, “We have seen that Wine Tasting Experience, where they get to see how wine is made and experience the art of wine tasting, is quite popular.” Prominent categories in gifting experiences include Wellness, Beauty, Gourmet, Culture, Entertainment, Sports, and Adventure.
Palak gives us an idea of what it takes to be a gift curator, which includes having a knack for understanding the recipient. “One should understand the gifting psychology of people and should know what is trending and latest in the field of gifting,” she says, “They must have the knowledge about the product that they are recommending and should understand the personality and mood of the recipient. The recommendation process works best when we know the recipient’s preference.”
GIFTING IT RIGHT
WittyGift, established in 2010, is an experiential gifting company that packages experiences based on a predetermined category or theme, one of the first ones in India. Manvinder S. Kohli from WittyGift gives us a peek into what the industry is like
Tell us how WittyGift started off in this industry.
Wittygift, a pioneer in experiential gifting concept in India, was set up in 2010 as a part of the changing face of corporate India. The concept stemmed out of the basic idea of how people are more interested in gathering experiences than hoarding objects. When we started WittyGift, my father told me, “You are like a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that may not exist.” We had to figure out every single aspect and have built our entire business from the ground up based on user inputs.
What have been your major challenges?
The biggest challenge has been category development. It took a while before anyone even understood what we were doing. Getting vendors on board was always going to be a problem, but thankfully, today the consumer services industry is a lot more stable than it was a few years ago and we are happy to see our vendors expanding.
A big road block was also the WittyGift founder Manvinder S. Kohli (far right) perception of vouchers as a mode of gifting. People have had bad experiences, including availability and usability of vouchers and vendors are not always happy to accept vouchers. We overcame this by creating a concierge service that would enforce contractual obligations and handle the dirty work, while keeping the customer front squeaky clean. Our customers love the fact that there is someone figuring things out for them and taking care of their reservations.
A big challenge on the sales side has also been to convince corporate buyers to change from the same old gifts that end up in a closet in some corner of all our houses. Our co-branded boxes, a global first, along with value-adds on the concierge side were a big hit and we continue to innovate to convince our corporate clients.
What skills do one need to become an experience gift curator?
Be someone who likes to do things, be observant, and have an eye for detail. We curate experiences that are gifted to loved ones; it’s a heavy expectation and one has to be able to judge various factors of each experience.
Which gift experience is the best-selling?
Our target audience is mostly between 16 and 40. The most purchased gift option is the “indulgence for couples” which is a set of gift experiences that two people can enjoy together, such as salsa lessons, fine dining for two, couples therapies, adventure activities or even learn pottery or cooking together. It makes the perfect wedding gift for young couples.
Volume 5 Issue 1