The topic for this special issue was approved in early 2006, with a 'Call for Papers' following in July 2006. The topic was emerging as important in 2006, but we did not forecast, at the time, how much more important it was to become by February 2008. In particular, the notion of 'the consumer experience' is central to current debates on the co-creation of value, the service-dominant logic of marketing and interdisciplinary approaches to service (for example, under the heading of 'service science', as presented in the QUIS Conference and Frontiers in Service Conference in 2007). We believe, therefore, that this special issue is very timely, and that the papers will encourage further research on the service experience and provide encouragement for the use of innovative methodologies in the quest for greater understanding. The papers offer insights into a diverse set of experiences: tourism consumption, department store shopping, student lectures and degree ceremonies, baseball attendance, and cinema-going. They employ a variety of methodological approaches, ranging from conventional statistical hypothesis testing, and principal components analysis to case study and narrative analyses and subjective personal introspection. They provide a 'good read', and the foundations for really creative further research that can contribute significantly to the ongoing debates.