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Most of the moments we have in our lives go unregistered or are quickly forgotten. Very few stay with us for months and even fewer stay with us for years. The role of an experience host is to create magical and transformational moments that will stay with guests for life.

Hosts go the distance to make our guests feel like they belong. For guests who have traveled very far, they certainly might not feel like they belong in a foreign city. It’s up to hosts to make them feel connected and in a few hours, make them feel as if they’re part of the local fabric.

One way to do this is by creating exceptional moments within your experience that increase your chances of a five-star review. Let’s break down a few ways to create some magic for your guests. 

Set (and live up to) expectations 

Remember this formula: Expectations > Reality = Disappointment

Expectations being greater than reality brings guests disappointment. And how do guests form their expectations? From the reviews on your page, direct communication with you, reading your description, price, photos, and word-of-mouth. The good news is, many of these things are in your direct control.

For example, say you have a beer tasting, and on your experience page you set the expectation that your tasting will include three beers. Now let’s say that when the experience happens, whatever the reason, you were only able to provide two beers. Guests who came to the experience were expecting three beers, but only got two. No matter how good your experience was, how delicious the beers, they’re automatically going to be annoyed because they didn’t get what you promised or what they were expecting. Always try to anticipate what might disappoint guests and set expectations with them in advance.

Elevate

Once you’ve set expectations, you can go above and beyond for your guests. Elevate your experience by including defining moments.

“Breaking the script” is a great way to elevate your experience. Add memorable details, share your own personal story, and go the extra mile to take care of your guests in a way they won’t expect. For example, Hogan, an experience host in Korea, gives his guests custom-made chopsticks to take home. This isn’t something he mentions on his experience page—it’s a true surprise. When guests get to do something or learn something they weren’t expecting, you have elevated their experience and their time with you. 

Stick your landing

Research shows that people won’t remember the length of an event. They’ll remember the peak moment, and they’ll remember the ending. When people assess an experience, they tend to forget or completely ignore its length—a phenomenon called duration neglect.

Instead, they rate an experience based on two key moments:

1. The best (or worst) moment, known as the “peak”
2. The ending 

Psychologists call it the “peak-end rule.” When you visit Disneyland everyone always remembers the magical fireworks and parade at the end of the night. Your ending doesn’t have to be something extravagant or over-the-top, though. Sometimes a very simple gesture can be the most memorable. Focus on reducing anxiety (pits) and adding small surprising touches (peaks) and finish strong.

Lead guests to personal transformation

Another way to create a magic moment is to open your guests to a new idea or way of thinking. Lead guests to ‘trip over the truth’ and spark a realization that gives them an  “ah-ha” moment. Have any of your guests come up to you after an experience and said, “I never realized this before but…” or, “this completely changed my mind about…”

To produce moments of insight, most guests need to stretch and place themselves in new situations. As a host, you’re uniquely positioned to lead guests to discover something new about themselves and the world through your experience. 

Learn the 5 A’s

Mistakes do—and will—happen. To make sure they don’t derail your experience (and to reduce the possibility of negative reviews) follow these 5 A’s set out by Danny Meyer, restaurateur and author, in his book Setting the Table:

  1. Awareness: Make use of all available information (i.e. body language, social cues, tone) to read whether your guests are enjoying themselves
  2. Acknowledgement: Admit there was a mistake
  3. Apologize: Show a genuine sign of remorse with an authentic apology
  4. Action: Back up the apology with immediate action to make the situation right
  5. Additional Generosity: Prove how much you care by exceeding what’s expected and giving them something “extra” 

An easy way to put these tips into action is to read your own experience page closely and mentally walk yourself through your own experience as a guest. Are there opportunities for moments of surprise and delight? Are there moments of disappointment you can better prepare for? By routinely putting yourself in your guest’s shoes you can continue to elevate your experience above and beyond expectations.