How does a rather sub-optimal Los Angeles hotel rank second in customer reviews, ahead of swanky establishments like the Four Seasons Hotel? Because, despite their lack of glamour, the Magic Castle Hotel understands how to create exemplary customer experiences from what Dan Heath calls “peak moments.”
As Heath explained it, studies in psychology show that most of our memories are tiny moments in time that stood out against the background of the mundane. These, he says, are peak moments, which have one or more of the following elements:
- They elevate us, or lift us above the everyday.
- They provide us with sudden insight about ourselves or our lives.
- They’re moments we’re pride of – achievements or moments of courage.
- They connect us, creating deeper ties to individuals in our lives or within groups of people working toward something together.
What’s interesting about peak moments is that they aren’t about fixing something – which is often where companies focus their products and services. And they aren’t accidental. Peak moments must be built intentionally, with human experience in mind. Most importantly, building peak moments means creating experiences that demonstrate understanding, provide validation, and show that you care about the people for whom you’re building them.
So, while the Magic Castle Hotel – once a nondescript apartment building – offers unremarkable rooms with unattractive bathrooms, and a rather yawn-worthy pool, it also offers delightful little touches like a “popsicle hotline” guests can use to order free, poolside popsicle delivery by a white-gloved waiter in a tuxedo. And, as Heath points out, what could be better on a hot day in L.A. than a poolside popsicle?
In fact, Heath noted, remarkable experiences – those moments that are cemented in our memory – don’t have to be grand gestures. They just have to be responsive to our needs, make us feel noticed and valued.
- Experiences are “mostly forgettable and occasionally remarkable.”
- Memorable experiences are built on “peak moments,” which elevate us, provide us with insight, are times we’re proud of, or deepen our connections with others.
- Peak experiences must be intentionally created if they’re to be effective.
Director of Digital Services