The Winning Formula for an Excellent Guest Experience

An excellent Guest Experience is 90% brilliant basics and 10% magic moments.

          – Ben Reason, Service Design for Business

And when it comes to basics, probably nothing is more basic than a smile.

Recently, I left home for an 11-day road trip to multiple cities across the eastern U.S. My travels took me through 7 airports, staying at 4 different hotels, using 3 different rental cars.

And I must say, the first day of my trip got off to an exceptional start, due to these people:

  • Two TSA officials
  • Cinnabon associate
  • Gate attendant
  • 2 flight crews
  • Rental car checkout booth staff
  • Hotel clerk check in at desk
  • Restaurant hostess
  • Restaurant server

Among those 14 people, across multiple cities, there was one common denominator:

They all smiled at me.

That, to me, is a good example of the “brilliant basics” that Ben Reason is referring to above.


It’s amazing what a difference it can make to the person standing in front of you.

The greatest symbol of a Guest Experience is a smile.

A great deal of research has been done on why smiling matters.  A journey through neuroscience, anthropology, sociology and psychology has helped uncover the untapped powers of the smile.

A smile is a simple and surprisingly powerful way to significantly improve your own life and the lives of others.

A genuine smile:

  1. Makes us more attractive.
  2. Helps us to change our mood.
  3. Makes you look good and feel good.
  4. Helps us stay more positive.
  5. Releases endorphins that act as natural painkillers.
  6. Makes us look younger.
  7. Releases a warmer vocal tone.
  8. Becomes contagious with others.
  9. Relieves our stress.
  10. Triggers certain hormones that lower heart rate and steady breathing.
  11. Eases the tension in a tense moment.

And where do you find more smiles per square foot than anywhere on earth?


Walt Disney World (or any other Disney theme park, or cruise ship, or resort.) My second day’s travels took me to Orlando for a conference, and flying at night, I saw the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom, and it make me think of…


 Having a smile is part of what makes Disney legendary. For years making eye contact and a smile were the first of Disney’s Seven Service Guidelines. Under Disney’s current Service Basics, Smiling is listed as the first way to project a positive image and energy. It’s been a heritage of Disney’s to have their Cast Members greet others with a smile.     – J. Jeff Kober, The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney

 How do you use the power of the smile in your Guest Experiences?

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