“Why this book?” That is often the first question asked by people who come into contact with my latest publication.  The question can be answered with a familiar cliché: “It’s a long story.” But one I am happy to tell.

Looking back, a great deal can be explained by the time when I started my career.  I was taking my first steps as a brand new employee just as the economic bubble burst and companies, overtaken by panic, seemed to be completely disoriented. The golden age when everything was successful and managers climbed the career ladder in a flash seemed to be over. It seemed like everyone started doubting themselves, which meant that terms like facts & figures and ROI started to become more important or even vital, otherwise managers were no longer open to any form of calculated risk.

At the same time another shift was occurring, the transition to digital. A revolution that had a huge impact on our way of communicating and therefore also on the marketing and the consumer that we were trying to reach. The problem with digital was that the famous facts & figures and ROI did not yet exist, which meant that indispensable risks needed to be able to keep up with this evolution and transformation were not taken. The consequence was that we lost the connection to the customer and I felt the need to seek a rapprochement again.

By then working in greater depth on customer experience, a field that literally specialises in customers’ experience, I tried to get a handle again on marketing and the consumer to whom we aimed to appeal. The consultancy business was also experiencing its own panic at the time. Where companies were trying to limit risks, consultants were falling over themselves in the race for the latest technological feats and expensive theories. So they did jump on the digital train at the right time, but their train was already going at a speed the consumer could not keep up with. Once again, I lost the connection, but this time the balance had switched to the other side.

Just at that moment, I met Stephanie and everything fell into place. Based on our own experience, we both instinctively felt that the truth needed to be sought somewhere in the middle, in the place where the consumer is. By starting up various companies, we had the opportunity to test out a lot of things with our fail-better mantra, and fine-tune and improve our methodology step by step. Thanks to endless discussions on the way to customers and partners and interminable discussions with those same customers and partners, we tackled every objection one at a time with both hands to understand even better how the consumer connects with brands.

Today, we are presenting you with the result of that process. I admit that it is rather weird to take a theory that has to evolve continuously with the needs of the customer and freeze it and summarize it in a book in black and white. But we felt that the narrative was right, and were asked on a number of occasions to compile our insights.

This book is not a destination. Together with Hotel Hungaria, we are continuing our quest and we will continuously learn and evolve. It is our ambition to publish a new book in the near future, but it will be one crammed with examples of success stories. Meanwhile, I am very happy to keep you informed of our day-to-day thoughts and insights via hotelhungaria.academy/blog and linkedin.com/in/nelepieters. And if you have an objection, please don’t hesitate to send me a mail, because our best ideas came about during the most intense discussions.