Last week, I was asked to photograph a number of items for Wedding Style Magazine. Grace Ormonde (editor-in-chief) was very kind to put me up at two ridiculously awesome hotels – Montage Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills Hotel.

montage beverly hills

I’ve had my share of awesome [and bad] hotels, but these two stood out in interesting ways. When it comes to five-star hotels, we already know that it’s all about service. No surprise there.

As an example, there are no ice vending machines like at Hilton or Holiday Inn. You have to ring them for it. Granted ice did magically arrive each afternoon, my ghetto roots found that bizarre. Should I phone them to iron my socks? Oh wait, there’s an app service for that too.

Peak-End Rule

When I got home, my friends asked about my trip. I scarcely remembered any of the amazing amenities and outstanding services because both of the hotels were quite comparable. Nothing stood out … It was like comparing apples to apples.

What I did remember were two very insignificant things. And these were the highlights of my trip.

Montage Beverly Hills
When the valet pulled up my car, I thought the attendant left his cap on my dashboard.

His response was, “We recall that you have a photo shoot. It’s hot outside, so we thought a cap and bottles of iced water would help.” Wow. I don’t wear caps and I like my water at room temperature, but nevertheless, thank you, sir.


Beverly Hills Hotel
This hotel had a leg up since I got to see celebrities every night. However, the real lasting impression were the little plates of delicious cookies that they left at turndown service — not the making of my bed, closing of curtains, restocking of ice … just cookies.

citrus cookies

Some places give pieces of chocolate or mints, but this place had freshly baked themed cookies (e.g., citrus theme, nut theme).

This brings me to the peak-end rule.

According to the peak-end rule, we judge our experiences almost entirely on how they were at their peak (pleasant or unpleasant) and how they ended. Other information is not lost, but it is not used.

Considering my experiences at both locations, everything was on par, except for those peak pleasant moments. While they’re still apples to an apples, they’re just served on different china now.

wedding cakeWeddings are quite similar. Sometimes ceremonies are late or the cakes didn’t have the right shade of white, but that’s not what people will remember.

In brides’ eyes, it was either the most magical [or worst] night in their lives … and the details were insignificant.

Under Promise, Over Deliver Differently

If you’ve been following my blog, then you should be familiar with the idea to “under promise, over deliver.”

As we learned earlier, what if everyone over delivered in the same ways? Your thoughtfulness would be canceled out.

The bottom line is to be generous with service, but to deliberately deliver something differently. It’s all about the finishing touch.

Sincerely yours,

Lawrence Chan

P.S. At Beverly Hills Hotel, I told the concierge that there was no ironing board in my bungalow. “We can take care of ironing for you, Mr. Chan.” Err … sensing my hesitation, he continued, “but we realize that some guests prefer to add their special touch.”

Sorry, sir, to be waited on hand and foot seemed so weird. Yeah … special touch was exactly what I was going for. Thanks for the save, dude.

P.P.S. I’ve been very fascinated with Pinterest. I was thinking how much simpler it would be to share if there was a Pin-It button under every photo. Would you be interested in WordPress plugin or some sort like that — rather than having to program it for each picture?