How a Three-star Beat Hollywood’s Top Hotels to #1 TripAdvisor Spot

Over the past few months, we have explored in detail how boutique brands – like New York City’s Casablanca Hotel and the Distrikt – differentiate themselves from the competition even when competing with luxury, five-star properties in the same destination. Both of these hotels moved away from outdated, preachy marketing tactics by focusing their limited resources on timeless, human values instead.

This month, we will be looking at The Magic Castle Hotel in Los Angeles.

The Magic Castle Hotel is a three-star property in Los Angeles and the area’s number one hotel on TripAdvisor, outranking even Hollywood’s most legendary hotels – mainly because of the strength of its customer service. The shift towards great service and business transparency creates a sense of enjoyment and loyalty with guests, who sing the hotel’s praises online, in turn leading to an all-round kick-ass online reputation.

Classified as a three-star property, The Magic Castle Hotel in Los Angeles generates so many rave reviews by guests that it has landed the #1 spot on TripAdvisor. In ReviewPro’s webinar, Better Reviews with Great Service and 8 Strategies for Guest Satisfaction Guide, Darren Ross, COO of Magic Castle and CEO of Service Freak Hospitality, discussed the hotel’s philosophy.

1. Know Who You Are…And Own It

“Something that has really worked for us has been realizing who we are and being true to that. We are always going to be a converted apartment building,” said Ross. “We don’t have an elevator and we’ll never have a restaurant or bar; however, what is within control is how our guests feel when they are with us.”

TIP: Ensure all staff understand your hotel’s strongest selling points and encourage staff to highlight those among guests, instead of focusing on the negative.

2. Focus on What You Can Control: Service

“We are a customer service company that functions as a hotel. Our philosophy is that we must compel our guests and give them a reason to act by way of making them feel good and creating memories for them,” Ross continued.

From housekeeping to maintenance and security, Magic Castle constantly relays valuable information – such as guest preferences – across the entire team. “It’s very important our staff are on the same page,” said Ross. “We live and breathe service every day: it’s completely ingrained in our culture. It is all about that connection with guests – we’re obsessed with it.”

TIP: Focus resources on controllable factors such as quality, service, value and guest expectations. Use review analytics to gain actionable insight into your brand’s greatest strengths and weaknesses.

3. Listen Carefully; Respond Creatively

Magic Castle popsicles by pool

One hot summer morning, Ross thought that popsicles might help guests to cool down by the pool. By the same afternoon, waiters were handing out popsicles to families relaxing in the blazing sunshine – fully suited in a tux and white gloves.

The hilarious juxtaposition of a stuffy suit with cute and playful popsicles became a smash hit at Magic Castle and had guests raving, both online and on-site. “Everyone loves it… the kids and their parents,” said Ross. It was received so well that today “Popsicle Delivery” features on TripAdvisor as one of the hotel’s most popular complimentary services.

TIP: Implement services that are low-cost and high impact to ensure that your guests are wowed, without breaking the bank. Empower employees to use their imagination to create remarkable experiences for the whole family.