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Creating Unexpected Delight

A few weeks ago, our family stayed at a last-minute Airbnb.

The Airbnb was fine. It was functional. Clean. Had enough towels for the four of us.

It did the job.

But it didn't have coffee or tea.

My wife is a coffee drinker and I am a tea drinker.

From my experience of coffee drinkers, when you're away on vacation, staying in a last-minute place like we were, the expectation for a quality cup of coffee is very, very low.

But there is an expectation.

When coffee drinkers wake up in the morning, they want something.

Ideally something that resembles coffee to tide themselves over so that they can get the real thing from the real place later in the morning.

They're even willing to make it in a machine that they barely understand how to use.

Tea drinkers on the other hand, have it easy.

We just put a bag into a mug and pour hot water on it.

Our expectations aren't as high as coffee drinkers, but they are still greater than zero.

Back to our last-minute Airbnb. It had no coffee, it had no tea.

The Airbnb cost us about $250 for a night once you include taxes, service fees, and all that jazz.

So let's ask a simple question: For the price of one night's stay, could the host have made some small choices that would have had a big impact on our experience?

Let's see.

Let's tackle coffee first.

Like I said before, coffee drinkers want something when they wake up. You could easily choose to satisfy that something with the most basic instant coffee, but we're going for a big impact here, right?

Like I said, I'm not a coffee drinker, but a little research led me to the Aeropress. It has a crazy amount of great reviews and it costs less than $60. It does need some coffee grounds though.

A bit more research led me to a company called Java Works that makes a bunch of different ground coffee options for less than $15 per bag. Some basic math told me that one bag amounts to 30 cups of coffee using the Aeropress. Let's get three bags.

Now for a little over $100, we've got a highly rated coffee press and three bags of coffee.

Let's switch to tea now.

David's Tea is an online tea supplier in Canada that has more flavours of tea than you can ever need, really. They also have free shipping over $49. For $90, you can get 72 individual sachets of various teas beautifully displayed in a colourful wheel. The mug and hot water don't require anything special.

To summarize: For less than the price of a night's stay, we now have a large variety of tea and some potentially amazing coffee that doesn't require complex machinery.

Would that small decision have had a big impact on our experience?

Well, if you're reading this and you're either a coffee drinker or tea drinker and you've stayed at an Airbnb before, what would you say?

For us, the answer would have been yes. It would have brought a moment of unexpected delight.

Using our Airbnb experience as an example, there are probably several principles you can use to create moments of unexpected delight. I'd like to focus on just one.

Pick a transactional moment that has potential for a high dwell time.

You can think of a transactional moment as one that simply needs to happen. In the Airbnb context, this could look like: Using the kitchen, using the washroom, getting into the Airbnb, sleeping, you get the idea.

Dwell time is how much time you spend doing the thing.

Brushing your teeth might have a lower dwell time than waiting for your coffee to brew or tea to steep. But, sitting on the toilet might have a higher dwell time than brushing your teeth. So in the context of the bathroom, sitting on the toilet has the potential for higher dwell time than using the sink, and using the toilet is most definitely a transactional moment.

Once you've found the transactional moment which has potential for high dwell time, all you have to do is make some small choices to increase the dwell time. You can think of increasing the dwell time as opening up space for delight to fit in.

You might not be an Airbnb host, dear reader.

But your life is full of transactional moments.

Consider bringing some delight to them.

Maroon background with a white coffee mug icon on it

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