Experience days

Experience days. They sound cool.

And they are cool, depending on which ones you choose, obviously!

So why should you love experience days like I do?

I don’t just like experience days, I love them, and I can tell you why: They make our lives richer.

Before you accuse me of being all dramatic, let me give you a fascinating piece of information:

Last year I carried out some research into gifts people receive for their birthdays and Christmas. It shocked me to find that over 60% of people can’t remember what gift they received from their partner or closest friend last year.

That’s an awful lot of thoughtfulness and money that’s all been forgotten in less than 12 months. You see, gifts have become so transient and generic that no-one really knows what to get anyone else, and it gets harder the older you get.

Every single year, thinking of something truly personal to buy becomes almost impossible.

We’re certainly spending the money, but we’ve got nothing to show for it – maybe an old iPad, a shrunken jumper or a dusty DVD player. For the same price, we could have bought our loved one an experience day that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

You wouldn’t forget flying a helicopter, learning to cook sushi, driving a monster truck or cuddling a penguin – they’re all experiences that you don’t have every day, and they will all make your life richer.

 So what’s the history of experience days?

Before Red Letter Days, there was nothing. We’ve all got UK entrepreneur Rachel Elnaugh to thank for inventing the entire experience day market. Some events companies already provided individual experience gifts, but it was her idea to scoop them up into one big shop and sell all different types of experiences.

You might remember Rachel from the first few series of Dragons Den on the BBC. She’s not on it anymore though, because Red Letter Days went bust. I’ve no idea how an experience company of that size came to struggle so much, especially as they were essentially just acting as agents for the actual experience day providers. Anyway, I think it was a real shame that the company struggled, and it’s great that it’s back to its best.

I bet the other ‘Dragons’ who bought Red Letter Days from the verge of bankruptcy are probably counting their money with glee.

And the history of Alasdair Gray?

People have often confused me with another Scottish fellow with the same name. He’s more famous than I am, but if you’re not Scottish or an English literature student, you’ve probably never heard of him.

And my story is very different from his. I joined another experience day startup at the time that Red Letter Days was just bursting into business. It’s long gone now, but I learned the ins and outs of the industry

  • What makes good experience days
  • How to get the best deals, and
  • How to avoid what I call ‘experience trash’ – the bargain basement versions of quality experiences, which waste your time and make you wish you hadn’t bothered.

I’ve enjoyed countless experience days and endured even more – The worst being in the early days, when I  was led on a wild goose chase around Bedford looking for a Ferrari that had been repossessed the day before. I’ve had many supercar driving experiences since, and that’s still the only one that didn’t have an actual car!

And it’s these years at the sharp end of experience day companies that makes me confident that I can help UK consumers choose the real life-changing and enjoyable experiences, and avoid the rip offs and bad deals.