Create a Tour That Will Be Remembered

When thinking about tour creation, you have to understand that people don’t remember entire experiences, they remember only the highlights (or the really bad parts).
This might seem obvious, but let’s put it into the context of customer service; customers aren’t likely to remember good service.

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Customers remember bad service, and they remember exceptional service (ever heard of “Joshie” the giraffe who was left at a Ritz-Carlton?). Customers expect good service, so when they receive it, it isn’t remarkable. I know, bummer.

I’m often the bearer of this bad news when I have to explain to tour guides that no matter how amazing their facts are…customers will rarely remember the details, only that their guide ‘gave a lot of interesting facts’.

But this can be good news as well!

A few strategically placed ‘special moments’ on your tour not only makes a memorable experience, but can overshadow any negatives that might occur (like bad weather).

In this article, I’ll explain the magic of the Peak-End Rule and offer three ways to use this concept to create a memorable experience.

Travelers take a self-guided tour in a museum in Barcelona.

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The Peak-End Rule.

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;

  1. The best, or worst, moments (“peaks” or “valleys”)
  2. 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.

How to use the Peak-End Rule to create a memorable experience.

1. Understand what the customer is buying and over-deliver.

In my experience, very few tour guides have been encouraged to look at the entire journey of a customer.

What is the vibe of the website, what does the marketing infer about the experience?

At the bare minimum, I always make sure tour guides have gone to the tour website to see exactly how the tour is advertised, what inclusions are listed, etc.

You have to know what the customers expect in order to create “Peaks”.

One example is a tour guide who memorizes the names of all of the customers on a tour (obviously easier with smaller-group day-tours).

Customers often don’t expect guides to learn their names, understanding that the guides give the same tour to so many customers throughout the week, so when a guide addresses them by their name half-way through the tour, it’s a really impressive touch.

Going one step further, guides can make a show of remembering everyone’s name at the beginning of a tour, then showing off how well they did at the end of the tour (both are “transition moments”).

Maybe it rained during the tour, maybe the service was slow at one of the stops, but, with the Peak-End Rule, it is more likely that what the customer will remember is how impressive it was that the guide remembered 15 new names.

2. Pre-plan spontaneous surprises that are easily replicable.

Nothing kills a special moment faster than having it be stale and obviously standard routine.

It must feel organic, even if you do it every time! For example, let’s say that on a tour of Moscow, you are greeted at the start of the tour with a shot of vodka.

A nice gesture, but if the tour inclusions mention “one shot of vodka”, not surprising.

If you make the vodka a surprise, that’s a moment.

One step further could be for the guides to explain how Russians do not actually say “cheers” but give a spontaneous toast.

The guide can then proceed to give an improvised toast to the customers.

This creates a really special moment at the beginning of their experience (“transition moment”).

Realistically, the guide might give a similar toast every time, but if they make it feel as if they’re really creating something special on the spot, the customer would never know.

You might not write on your post-card home that you got a shot of vodka on a tour in Russia…but you MIGHT write that you had a really cool local experience that involved a special Russian toast.

If you want to go deeper into how to curate moments, one of my absolute favorite books is The Power of Moments by Chip & Dan Heath.

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3. Be inclusive when thinking of “peaks” and “valleys”.

What is expected as basic customer service can be drastically different depending on where your customer is coming from.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with your demographic, understanding clearly what would be considered a “peak” or a “valley”.

It’s going to save you a lot of time and energy to do so.

One easy way to do this is to take stock of what your current customers already perceive as a “peak”.

At the end of a tour, ask customers the simple question;

“If you remember one thing about this experience, what will it be?”

You might be surprised at their answer, it can often be something seemingly small & random (again, tour guides, don’t be offended if they don’t state several of the amazing facts you taught them).

Use this data as a base, expanding on whatever the most common “peak” is and making it more defined/easy to replicate.

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By |2021-03-08T10:40:51-04:00April 20th, 2020|0 Comments