This paper uses the bandwagon metaphor to analyse, in two rural contexts, how small tourism firms become engaged in the idea of the experience economy and how the idea is turned into practice through network formation and innovation. In developing a practice-based approach we use the bandwagon metaphor to conceptualize network formation and innovation in terms of a ‘journey’. Following the practice-based literature on bandwagons, the journey starts by labelling an idea that is broad enough to give meaning to, and pull together, a number of diverse supporters. The journey also depends on two further central processes, namely appropriation and narrowing the workspace. One Norwegian and one Danish network are studied using a case methodology. They are two rural networks of mainly small tourism firms. The empirical study confirms and illustrates how the bandwagon effect involves these three core processes. However, we also argue for the importance of a fourth process, namely strategic reflexivity. The paper closes by suggesting a development model with relevance for policy. The paper offers an increased understanding of how the experience economy as an idea can become practice and puts forward a practice-based development model.