Coined by psychologist Daniel Kahneman, the Peak-End Rule explains that people often remember only a small portion of an entire experience.
In fact, people tend to forget the length of an experience (for example, a vacation), and instead rate the entire experience based on two elements;
- The best, or worst, moments (“peaks” or “valleys”)
- The beginning and ending (“transition moments”)
While “Valleys” might be unavoidable, rain on a walking tour, a tour bus that breaks down, “Peaks” are easily created and can be injected into the experience (particularly during “transition moments” for an extra boost).
For example, I was in Athens this January. I’m not going to remember every single detail of the trip (especially if I’m asked a year later; “You went to Athens? How was it?”). Things that will stand out to me would be;
- I had several amazing dinner experiences (“Peak”)
- I bought some amazing vintage shop finds bought my new favorite jacket (“Peak”)
- I was there for work, which was stressful (“Valley”)
- The weather was cool & rainy (“Valley”)
- I flew through Istanbul’s brand new airport which was beautiful and had great amenities (“Peak”)
Overall, I had more “Peaks” than “Valleys”.
Moreover, one of my positive experiences (flying through the new airport) happened at the beginning and the end of the trip.
So if asked, I would most definitely say; “Oh I love Athens!”.
Had I had more “Valleys” (or a really big one that outweighed all the positive) or had my airport experience been crummy both arriving and departing, I would probably have a negative connotation with the trip.
This can easily be applied to any tour experience.
If you want to dive further into how the Peak-End Rule defines the customer experience, this is a good read.