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The best entrepreneurs in the world understand the power of creating lasting memories for their customers. They go out of their way to think of creative things they can do to make their customers smile and say, “Wow, that was amazing!”. 

Are you doing this in your business? If not, read on for some inspiration from one business that is going out of its way to make customers feel appreciated – and learn how it’s making their business far more successful as a result.

A Simple Little Hotel

The city of Hollywood in the US is famous for glamorous movie stars and luxury shopping. So you might be surprised to learn that one of the highest-rated hotels in the city is not an expensive luxury resort. It’s a simple little place called the Magic Castle Hotel.

This hotel was converted from an old run-down apartment complex in the 1950s. The new owners painted it bright yellow, put a few lawn chairs in front of the pool, and re-opened it as a hotel. Compared to many of the hotels in Hollywood, it was actually kind of ugly, to be honest.

“Why is this hotel so highly rated? It’s old and not very fancy. What is its secret?”

Yet somehow, this simple little hotel in an old building has gained thousands of online reviews from delighted customers. The reviews are so glowing, the Magic Castle now ranks #4 of 370 hotels on Tripadvisor in the entire city in online reviews, ahead of many hotels that are much fancier and more expensive. How can this be? 

The Popsicle Hotline

The business plan responsible for the Magic Castle’s surprising success comes from owners who work hard to create an amazing experience for customers filled with little “moments of delight”. They are constantly looking for little ways to surprise guests with unexpected experiences that make them smile. 

The first thing guests see when they arrive, for example, is a 24-hour snack counter filled with yummy treats that are free for customers. If guests are celebrating a birthday, they will find a surprise gift and a personal note waiting in their room when they arrive. Finally, and most importantly, they have something amazing they call a “Popsicle Hotline”.

Near the hotel pool is a sign for the Popsicle Hotline. Next to the sign is a bright red old-style telephone mounted on the wall. Every day after 2:30 pm, a guest can pick up the phone, and a staff member will answer and say “Hello, this is the Popsicle Hotline, what flavor would you like?” 

After a guest orders her favorite flavor, a staff member wearing fancy white gloves comes out to them holding a silver tray. On the tray is their free popsicle. Even the most serious traveler has to smile when they see a hotel employee running out with a fancy tray carrying a free popsicle. It’s funny, unexpected, and delightful. It’s so simple it makes you wonder why you didn’t think about it…

Here’s what some 5-star guest reviews of the hotel, notice their comments:

  • “The bathroom and decor was a bit tired but this wasn’t a problem as the hotel made up for this in so many ways.”
  • “It’s not fancy, but… the free ice cream!”
  • “Magic Castle Hotel was absolute perfection!

LESSON: Great Customer Experience Isn’t Expensive

The most amazing part is that creating moments of delight like this are not expensive. The hotel owners understood that the expense of connecting an old telephone and buying some ice popsicles was very small (about $0.14) compared to the amount of business they would receive from happy customers who tell their friends about the hotel. It’s not luxurious or extravagant in any way – but it’s unexpectedly fun and creates an experience customers will remember forever. That’s the key – creating a unique experience for your customers that amazes them, something no one else is doing.

What Can You Do Today?

If you run a business, think about what you could do to create moments of delight and unexpected joy for your customers. What kind of experiences could you offer them that is different and unique from your competitors?

Maybe it’s something fun and creative like the Popsicle Hotline. Perhaps it’s a personal touch you add to their orders, or amazing customer service that is so good they talk about it with all their friends. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be memorable, make customers smile and feel appreciated in an unexpected and wonderful way, so much so that they tell everyone they know.

All for only $0.14, now that is a return on investment!


Tim Moore

Tim Moore

Partner | SKYNAV

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