Creating Memorable Experiences

I am back from a roaring 7 week adventure across the USA from LA to Chicago on a good, old fashion train, with stops at Carslbad, Anaheim (yes Disneyland) and Santa Fe.

I floated into work last Monday with the ‘post-holiday glow’ and more plans for the next adventure. This one took 8 years in the making so let’s see how I fare with my next trip. Apart from the physical break, I saw the trip as an opportunity to change my daily habits and routine, and provide me with new perspectives on life, work and play. Hmmm… I sure had big hopes.

OK, whilst I didn’t evolve into Yoda in 7 weeks, I can say that certain aspects of the trip stood out when I reflect on what I loved and didn’t quite like. The common theme around what I loved the most about my trip were places that took meticulous care creating great product experiences. We all nod our heads and say of course, companies that deliver memorable experiences always come out on top. It’s what we’ve learnt to say and to some extent practice, but do we really go beyond obvious?

Disneyland Theme Parks and Hotel

I admit, a little naff for a 40+ year old to visit Disneyland, but what can I say…my 4 year old dragged me there. Disneyland was super at creating memorable product experiences. And I am not talking about the obvious Mickey rides, songs, dances and souvenirs.

To create memorable experiences we must go beyond the obvious and look at the minutia, the attention to every detail that creates a whole:

  1. It’s in the graphics and the material used to create the souvenir ticket.
  2. It’s in the welcome greeting when you first arrive at the park.
  3. It’s in good signage and easy to read maps.
  4. It’s in the amazing crowd and queue management.
  5. It’s in the appropriately themed food selection – 60s diner style at Cars land.
  6. It’s the good processes – taking food orders, taking payment, obtaining ‘fast passes’.
  7. It’s the availability of amenities – lots of toilets, fruit stalls, cleanliness of the park.
  8. It’s in the hidden Mickey images throughout the park and hotel.
  9. It’s in the badges that are given to first timers to the park.
  10. It’s the commitment to everyone in the family – wheelchairs for those that can’t walk far, prams for babies and toddlers.

Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi – Santa Fe

Another place that delivered beyond the expected is a little inn at Santa Fe called Hotel Anasazi. Look it up if you are ever in Santa Fe.

They created memorable experiences through service delivery with clean, beautiful rooms, great food and a helpful concierge that exceeded our expectations. As a family travelling with a 4 year old there was a risk that such a nice adult hotel may neglect the needs of younger travelers.

Instead Jack, my 4 year old, was enticed into a little game by the Reception team. He had to find the little Christmas elf which was hidden somewhere new around the inn each day. When found, he was rewarded with a little trinket. Every night he also received a treat. One night it was a bathrobe his size, the next night, a plate of homemade cookies and a glass of milk. It became clear that the hotel had considered the whole family as the target market and not just the adult with credit card paying the bill.

The communication before the visit was also beyond expected. An online form was provided asking us about our pillow preferences, sightseeing requirements, the need for children’s toiletries. Whilst some hotels do pay lip service to customer preferences, this one surprised me and delivered all with a lovely piece of cake to boot!

For 2013, continually ask yourself if your entire product experience delivers beyond the obvious and expected.

Happy New Year!


Product Management Training