G. Aparicio, J. Forcada, A. Lafuente-Ruiz-de-Sabando, P. Zorrilla Calvo

University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU (SPAIN)
University managers have received suggestions from various areas of the marketing discipline to the effect that the quality of training programmes is not the only factor that has an influence upon variables such as the satisfaction felt by students, their degree of engagement, and the image they have of the institutions in which they pursue their studies. Indeed, while teaching constitutes the core of university service provision, it is also complemented by a series of additional services, spaces and sensations that interact in the construction of students’ experiences.

Universities are witnessing an increase in rivalry over the recruitment of the best students, and the quality of the basic service is taken as read. Furthermore, students expect to undergo a unique experience. That is why it is not sufficient to promote the quality of training programmes in higher education, and why the appropriate management of students’ experiences stands as a new challenge for Higher Education institutions.
In the light of the research and praxis developed over recent years in other fields such as tourism and the retail industry, being exposed to memorable experiences encourages customer loyalty, as well as representing a key factor that differentiates between similar competitive offers where technical characteristics or functional features are concerned.

University Institutions should not be an exception to progress in this area, in that students are part of a society in which both purchase and consumption patterns in general, and the models of relation with the University Institution in particular, are changing. Not much research on this question exists and only some universities have adopted some of the approaches of experiential marketing as part of their competitive strategy.
University institutions and their offer to students certainly possess distinguishing characteristics of their own that do not permit the direct transfer of concepts and tools developed for other sectors; but with the necessary adaptations that go beyond just seeking the attainment of academic status, they can also work to provide students with the best experience during their time at university.

Accordingly, in this work experiential marketing is presented as a new framework that furnishes university institutions with the appropriate management instruments to provide their students with holistic experiences. And, given that this research area has scarcely received attention, the aim of this work is to identify knowledge gaps that make it possible to guide research efforts. To this end, we carry out a review of the academic literature published to date and developed following an experiential marketing orientation in the field of Higher Education. We hope thereby to contribute to advances in adapting Experiential Marketing postulates to the sphere of Higher Education and to the development of a framework for specifically identifying, measuring and managing the experiences of students.