Violeta Salonen

Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences




Mário Passos Ascenção



Creating storytelling-based experience events: The case of Viaporin Kekri


The entire world is a stage. Ancient cities like Rome hold magnificent storyworlds for the traveler to get immersed in to. In tourism, storytelling is not entirely a new phenomenon, as stories have always been important for companies operating directly or indirectly in tourism, and tourist associate with them as they involve travelers in engaging ways. Stories give meaning and continuity to travelers lives. They stimulate their imagination, and involve them emotionally (Jensen, 1999; Salzer-Mörling, 2004; Twitchell 2004). Considerable research has been conducted by Mossberg (2008) in terms of storytelling and servicescape, however, not much of research has been done about the importance of storytelling in experience creation, in particular experience event creation. Many theme park concepts are built around stories from sagas and comic strips. In Norway, there is Kardemomme village, Sweden has Astrid Lindgren’s World, and Finland has Mumin World. (Mossberg, 2008). Organizing events based on stories and myths, such as medieval and chivalry events is also popular (Mossberg, 2008). Consumers visit themed servicescapes not only to buy products but also to engage in fantasies, feeling and fun (Holbrook & Hirschman, 1982; Pine & Gilmore, 1999). Themed environments provide the staging, props, lightning, music, design etc. (Gottdiener, 1998).  This paper aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the ever-growing topics of storytelling and the experience economy, leaning on both servicescape and musicscape. Experience pyramid (Tarssanen & Kylänen, 2008) would be one of the experience creation tools which would be used as a base, including extraordinary experience model, which focuses on the touristic experience outside of the everyday realms (Wang, 2002). Guest journey mapping together with interest curve (Bulencea & Egger, 2016) would be presented and main elements of storytelling and narratives would be incorporated into each touchpoint for better immersion and engagement. After comprehensive research on both experience creation and storytelling, Viaporin Kekri event was first designed and executed in 2015.  Viaporin kekri – a one-day event that took place in Suomenlinna during the dark season for the fourth time in November 2018 and the aim was to add the elements of darkness, storytelling and indulgence and combine it with the old forgotten tradition. Even though the storyworld of the event was fictional, the actual historical facts were exploited in it with the aim of visitor edutainment. The aim of the event was fourfold: to strengthen partnerships between businesses in the destination and to promote them for the visitors as an event and evening destination; to create new partnerships between local and metropolitan area businesses; to give opportunity to students to apply theory in practice; as well as to edutain visitors about historical and cultural heritage while attending an event whose roots lie in old traditions blended with a contemporary spin. From the theory and practice comparison, a new model for creating storytelling-based experience event is presented as an outcome, and discussion of the importance of this topic and future improvements for both industry and academia is provided.  References Egger, Roman, and Paul Bulencea. Gamification in Tourism: Designing Memorable Experiences. BoD– Books on Demand, 2015. Gottdiener, M. 1998. 'The Semiotics of Consumer Spaces - The Growing Importance of Themed Environments.' In J. F. Sherry (Ed.) Servicescapes: The Concept of Place in Contemporary Markets. Chicago: NTC Business Books Jensen, R. (1999). The dream society: How the coming shift from information to imagination will transform your business, New York, McGraw-Hill. Morris B. Holbrook and Elizabeth C. Hirschman. Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 9, Issue 2, 1 September 1982, Pages 132–140 Mossberg, L. (2008). Extraordinary experiences through storytelling. Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, 8 (3), 195-210. Pine II, B.J. and Gilmore, J.H. (1999). The Experience Economy. Harvard Business School Press, Boston. Salzer-Mörling, M. and Strannegård, L. (2004). Silence of the brands. European Journal of Marketing, 83 (1/2), 224-238. Tarssanen, S., & Kylänen, M. (2006). A theroretical model for producing experiences - a touristic perspective. In M. Kylänen (Ed.), Articles on experiences 2. Rovaniemi: Lapland Centre of Expertise for Experience Industry Twitchell, J. B. (2004). An english teacher looks at branding. Journal of Consumer Research, 32 (2), 484-489 Wang, N. (2002) The tourist as peak consumer. In: G. M. S. Dann (Ed.), The Tourist as a Metaphor of the Social World, pp. 281–295 (Wallingford, Oxon: CABI Publishing).