Right now, we are all experiencing unprecedented events. In the last month, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) went from being a sparse virus in the U.S., primarily affecting parts of China, to a worldwide pandemic.

As a result, our company has seen hospitality and economic activity in other industries come to a grinding halt. This has us all longing for yesteryear, or life 4 weeks ago. One thing I see in the media is people wishing they could escape to Disneyland with their families and leave their anxieties at home. This has me wondering: are people aware of the Disney Paradox?

Disney Paradox: If you were to measure your happiness every hour of the day you spent at Disneyland, your average happiness would likely be less than at home or work. That’s probably because there are some negatives that are associated with a Disneyland trip: high cost, travel time, long lines, upset children, crowds, and other stressors that come with traveling. But we’re enchanted with meeting Mickey Mouse, Space Mountain, and ending the day with fireworks at Cinderella’s Castle. These special moments leave us pining to plan and hurry back to “the happiest place on earth.” Have you ever experienced these feelings?

Psychologists explain that when we look back on experiences, we forget most of the experience and remember the peak-end moments. Disney is really good at creating peak moments.

“When people assess an experience, they tend to forget or ignore its length. Instead, they seem to rate the experience based on two key moments: (1) the best or worst moment, known as the peak, and (2) the ending… What’s indisputable is that when we assess our experiences, we don’t average our minute-by-minute sensations.” –Chip & Dan Heath

We may be measuring our moments in quarantine as boring or anxious as we watch Congress respond to the virus and the market, but I want to shift our focus on creating peak moments in a crisis.

During The Great Recession, PEG had the right to build a Hyatt Place in Provo, but as the economy tanked, the development was put on hold. PEG started to build relationships in the area and started to look at hotel portfolios that were on the market. One opportunity, in particular, was that peak moment for PEG: During the downturn, we identified the Provo Marriott and University Park Marriott as potential buys by working directly with their lender. When they were turned back to the bank, PEG purchased the Provo Marriott and flipped the University Park Marriott to a trusted partner. The Provo Marriott is a Marriott-managed franchise property and needed some updating. Over the years this property has been renovated and is still a star in the portfolio.  This transaction led to trust with Marriott, hoteliers, and PE Firms across the US. These relationships launched PEG on our successful hospitality path, and now look at our portfolio!

This peak transaction also led to more peak moments in PEG’s future: winner of Hyatt Developer of the Year 2016 and Best Project by Marriott in 2018.

I don’t want to compare a Disneyland vacation with what the world is experiencing now, but I do want to remind myself and others that we are all creators of peak-end moments. As we wait for Disneyland to reopen their gates to masses, signaling that Coronavirus has slowed down, my hope is that we will look back on this time with memories of peak moments in our homes and companies. We can remember the generosity of strangers, create relationships that forge job growth in the future, and come out of this pining for the peak moments of connecting with community.

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