Engagement with Guests Starts with the Message


Like many words in the English language, engagement has many meanings:

  • noun:   employment for performers or performing groups that lasts for a limited period of time
  • noun:   contact by fitting together
  • noun:   the act of giving someone a job
  • noun:   a mutual promise to marry
  • noun:   a meeting arranged in advance
  • noun:   a hostile meeting of opposing military forces in the course of a war

What do you think of in terms of engagement when it comes to the Guests coming to your church?


When I work with companies on embracing the Experience Economy and want people to understand the distinction between staging experiences and (merely) delivering services, manufacturing goods, or extracting commodities, the crucial term is exactly that: engagement. You must engage your customers in order to stage a true, distinctive experience, an experience that reaches inside of them and creates a memory within them that lasts long after the experience recedes.

Joseph Pine, The Experience Economy

Scott Gould, writing in his new book “The Shape of Engagement,” has developed a framework for engagement that all hospitality teams should consider.

Gould defines engagement as “the process of making the most of a relationship”, with the foundational view that all relationships follow the same process, whether that be person-to-person, or between a person and a brand, organization, product or idea. The frameworks in the book describe this process.

Organizations that seek to foster engagement must progress through the three levels of engagement maturity:

  1. From “Engagement as Expression”, which is merely seeking engagement through what they express about themselves;
  2. To “Engagement as Experience”, where people tangibly engage back with their offerings, whether that be a product, workplace or community goal;
  3. Then finally to “Engagement as Enablement”, where people have an enduring connection with the organization because of the enriching effect of its offerings, which provide both practical means and personal meaning for the user.

This maturity model is further fleshed out by the seven frameworks that the book provides, each with strategic and tactical utility.

Here’s a look at the first framework, “The Circle of Engagement.”












The Circle of an Engagement is just that – a circle, or the letter O – and just like a circle, engagement is an infinite loop. The circular motion is made of the three processes: Scatter, Gather and Matter.

This first shape examines the nature of engagement from a communication theory perspective, additionally touching upon its philosophical nature. There are three processes to engagement:

  1. Scatter, which is the message that initiates any engagement;
  2. Gather, where responders identify themselves and gather to both the initiator and each other;
  3. and Matter, which creates ongoing value from the gathering interaction and providing means and meaning.

All engagement begins with a message. As Gould says, “call it what you will – an offering, an invitation, an advertisement, a look in the eyes, a request, an outstretched hand, a speech, or a brand – but it always begins with this. You can’t get away from it.


inspired by The Shape of Engagement, by Scott Gould









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