Insights from the front lines.


Did I Believe Criss Angel? Lessons In Experience Design

The Criss Angel Show Believe at the Luxur hotel in Las Vegas was true to what Las Vegas is all about: a constant attempt to outdo your competitors.   In that regard, Las Vegas provides a living proof for the need to innovate, evolve and reach new, higher standards.  The intense competition among hotels, night clubs, shows and restaurants forces business leaders to reinvent themselves every day.

Although Mr. Angel is not “my cup of tea” style wise, I kept my mind open and went to learn from a master performer how to delight customers. During the show Mr. Angel talks about his mission “to blur the lines between reality and illusion”.  It’s a nice mission.  Not sure what purpose it serves and how it makes an impact on the world, aside from delivering shocking magic tricks that entertain people. (With 45 million views on YouTube, he definitely entertains many people.) Either way, I opted to pay attention to the performance and drew several lessons we can all follow to delight customers.

  • Evocative set. Believe is designed to create a shocking experience with strong dark black set which provides a perfect set up both for conducting magic tricks (you can create better illusions and hide your stunt people better) and impressive lighting.  Creating a stunning set creates curiosity.  Doing so consistently all the way to the hallways carry the concept consistently.
  • Preparations. I am sorry I do not believe in magic tricks.  For me, they are not an illusion but rather a product of great preparations and practice. And that Mr. Angel did well.  He was prepared and his illusionary magic worked well because of it.
  • Attention to Detail. To succeed in your magic tricks you must pay attention to every detail and develop tools that cover all required elements so you avoid the unexpected (no pun intended).  The magnitude of the magical illusions that Criss Angel performed was testimony to the attention to detail he commanded.
  • Interaction with your audience. Some performers say hello to their audience or incorporate a quick note about the town in which they are performing. Mr.  Angel went all in (pun intended).  His level of interaction with the audience was impressive and people felt that they were part of the show.  He even drank tequila with one of the guests.
  • Be human and humble. Despite his success, Mr. Angel was grateful to the audience for their support. He also encouraged them to make a donation to a charity he support and provided donation box outside of the performance hall for people to make their contribution.  He came across as a human being not a bigger than life performer.
  • Be authentic. The show included a video from his childhood and an explanation of how he got started. It was not done in a flashy way of paving the path of a superstar.  It was rather authentic and easy to relate to. Using real pictures, Mr. Angel retold funny stories and self-deprecating moments from his past.  I left feeling as if I knew him personally.
  • Make it last. Like any other Las Vegas show or establishment, an extensive gift shop presented wide array of memorabilia to allow guests to take their experience home and share it with others.  This is a great way to make the emotions last longer (and you can command a great premium price for it).

So although the cynic in me did not buy into the magic and illusions, I did appreciate the experience and admire the showmanship and the work that went into the show.  Criss Angel did not take his audience for granted and did his best to deliver the exceptional experience they paid for.

Lior Arussy is the president of Strativity Group, a global customer experience transformation firm. Arussy is the author of six books, is latest book Exceptionalize It! (4i,2012).

Follow him on Twitter @LiorStrativity