Chief Guest Experience Officer Cara Sylvester on How Target’s Industry-Leading Experience Delivers for Our Guests 

  • Dec 7, 2023
Chief Guest Experience Officer Cara Sylvester walks through a Target store holding a red shopping basket.

As we dive deeper into the holidays, Chief Guest Experience Officer Cara Sylvester reflects on how Target creates meaningful, memorable moments of joy for guests no matter when — or how — they shop with us.

When I was young, my mom and I would pick a day and go shopping at our favorite department store to pick out presents for my family. I honestly can’t remember any gifts that ended up under our Christmas tree, but I do distinctly remember holding my mom’s hand as we rode the escalator to the toy department with music playing all around me. I can still see the larger-than-life tree that stood like a beacon in the center of the store and big colorful decorations hanging above me from the ceiling. And when I close my eyes, I can still feel the warmth of being in that magical place with my mom. Those memories and feelings are what turn an ordinary shopping trip into an experience that sticks with you for a lifetime. And that stickiness is what drives love and loyalty for a brand or a retailer, which is why we care so much about the experience we create for you, our guests. 

As we head into the heart of the holidays, I’ve been thinking a lot about how Target is that magical place where traditions are created, and memories are made. Seeing families shop together in stores over the last few weeks, especially on Black Friday, it’s clear that this season is about much more than finding a great deal (don’t get me wrong, those are incredibly important, too!) or completing a checklist. The holidays are a time for togetherness and joy, and Target is the place for both.

Headshot of Cara Sylvester smiling in a pink sweater.

We constantly ask ourselves: What can we do to create that special feeling or moment of joy that stays with you long after your visit is over?

Cara Sylvester Chief Guest Experience Officer
A shelf with tiny red and white Christmas trees.
Cara Sylvester holding a red Target shopping basket.
The Marks & Spencer bus in a Target store.

Uniquely Target

Although guest experience is part of my title, every Target team member thinks about creating a memorable, meaningful guest experience as part of their work. We constantly ask ourselves: What can we do to create that special feeling or moment of joy that stays with you long after your visit is over?

We use the same ingredients as other retailers to create our guest experience — assortment, stores, digital, marketing — but we blend them in a way no one else can. We bring you products you’ll only find at Target; ones that are on trend, work with any budget and are designed to make you smile. We invite discovery and inspiration whether you’re walking an aisle or scrolling our app. We sweat the details, knowing it’s the small things that make a huge difference. And we also think big, always reimagining and reinventing to give you an experience that makes you say, “I love shopping at Target.”

These are the touches that set us apart, deepen relationships with you and grow our business. We know we’ve hit the mark when we see guests literally dancing in the aisles as they celebrate their Target finds on Instagram and TikTok. Knowing we can brighten someone’s day with a seamless Drive Up experience that includes a Starbucks coffee delivered to their car … offering products that are not just well-priced but well-designed … aiming to make every interaction with our guests a positive one — that’s what Target’s guest experience is all about.

Two women carrying red Target shopping baskets walk through colorful apparel and accessories displays.

What matters most — during the holidays and every day

We obsess over delivering an exceptional experience for our guests every day. But this is a special time of year when we can deliver extra sparkle and delight. When thinking about what would spark joy for you this year, we chose a transportation theme that’s both nostalgic and modern. (Like our shoppable Grand Central Gifting Station.) It taps into the wonder and possibility of the season and invites you to think of Target as a destination where you can slow down and enjoy your holiday journey.

As I’ve been in stores over the last few weeks, nothing makes me happier than seeing wide-eyed kids tugging their parents’ hands as they gravitate toward the trains, planes and buses decorating the floors, aisles and ceilings. I remember my wide eyes as a little girl and smile thinking of the memories that are being made with Target this year. Magical moments are, of course, everywhere:

Colorful holiday shelves at Target with signs indicating $5 and $10 items, with a photo of a smiling young girl in the background.

Immersive exploration

From gifting stations and seasonal displays of Marks & Spencer and Wondershop gems to in-store events with LEGO, e.l.f. and Nintendo, our stores have been transformed into holiday happy places. You see it in expected and unexpected ways in our signing and products. This year, for the first time, we created a signature pattern that you see reflected throughout the experience — but also on exciting holiday products (check out our Favorite Day truffles gift card holder!) and everyday items (my favorite paper plates!). You also hear it in the music and sounds that reflect this year’s transportation-themed celebration as you are buzzing around the store.

Two photos (left to right), an iPhone displaying the Gifting Station page in the Target app and the Gifting Station landing page on

Connected discovery

A quick tap of the Target app reflects the same holiday colors, patterns and sense of discovery you get browsing the aisles, with interactive features like our 360-degree toy room and digital gifting station. When you open our app or click to our site, you get an experience that is personalized, dynamic and filled with customized inspiration. It’s difficult to create that same store magic online, and this year, I think we’ve done just that.

Three photos (left to right), Cara Sylvester browsing shelves while holding a red Target shopping basket, the Target Drive Up logo and the Target Order Pickup logo.

Affordable joy

With thousands of gifts and toys priced under $25, hundreds of beauty, apparel and accessories items starting at $5 and stocking stuffers starting at $1, you can check everything off your list for less. (That’s on top of our popular Deal of the Day and always-on savings with Target Circle and RedCard.) And free same-day services like Order Pickup and Drive Up make it even easier to shop on your terms — with no minimum orders and no pickup windows required.

Three young Target guests stand in front of a holiday train engine at a Target Wonderland pop-up event.

Beyond the Bullseye

Some of the biggest smiles I’ve seen this season have resulted from bringing our experience directly to our guests. Our Target Wonderland pop-up events and Target Circle Holiday Giveaway with Hilary Duff are two examples of how we think broadly about guest experience to spread even more joy to you this time of year. 

Designing an experience that is memorable, sparks emotional connections and makes our guests’ day just a little brighter is our round-the-clock mission, and we invite you to make your own memories with us as you celebrate the holidays and all the everyday moments that matter to you.

Wishing you and your loved ones a magical holiday season filled with joy,

Cara Sylvester's signature.

A red graphic with a wrapped present in the center.

The Holidays at Target

Affordable options. Joyful inspiration. Easy shopping experiences. The holiday season is here and we’re ready with everything guests need to celebrate and save.

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