It has been argued that service encounters between front-line employees and users support the development of knowledge about users' needs. However, the potential for this often remains unused, not least in tourism. This article argues that if tourism service encounters are changed into ‘experience encounters’ by integrating them into the tourism experience to which they are related, this will create added experiential value for tourists and increase the creation of knowledge about users. This is illustrated in an innovation field experiment in a retro design boutique hotel in which service encounters were developed into experience encounters. The experiment illustrates the potential that experience encounters have to create knowledge and value, but also suggests some barriers that need to be overcome.