It (usually) Starts with the Moments

As we said above, using the framework is not a linear process. That being said, since the moments are what our guests remember long after the experience and the theme for our products, we find that it is usually a great place to start.

So, what do we mean by moments? They are our promise to the guests, going beyond the activities or places we visit. They are the reasons why the experience exists and the difference between:

Seeing the ice bubbles.


The awe of walking on ice in the grandeur of Abraham Lake on a search with a local guide for the magic of the ice bubbles and features.

While both can be great products to offer, seeing the ice bubbles is quite limited and relies on the weather conditions aligning in our favour. On the other hand, the awe of walking on ice with a local guide in search of ice bubbles provides a richer experience that can easily be personalized for each guest and adapted based on the conditions.

Finally, defining the moments we offer allows us to align our products with our motivations as experience providers, why our guests are choosing to book them and with the destination’s sense of place.

Defining The Moments

We find that the magic happens when the guests can reach a state where they forget about everything else that’s going on in their lives to just enjoy the experience. It’s similar to being in the zone, the concept of flow and mindfulness. We call it being lost in the moment.

Over the years we’ve found that there are four types of moments that our guests seek when planning a visit to Nordegg & Abraham Lake: goosebump, accomplishment, learning and connection moments.

Goosebump Moments are awe-inspiring experiences that rise above our ordinary world. It’s the feeling of being small in the grandeur of our landscape and the peaceful happiness that stops us in our tracks, without the need to understand why, as we enjoy the natural beauty of our region.

These are the moments we experience floating on a lake at sunrise, standing in a frozen canyon surrounded by walls of ice or sitting in the yard at the Canteen listening to live music as the sun sets over the mountains.

We can help guests reach those moments by choosing locations, times or activities that naturally boost the senses. We can augment these moments by raising the stakes, for example by adding a small element of challenge or enjoying a time-limited event like a sunrise, and/or by breaking the script to enjoy an unexpected surprise. Care must be taken however so that these elements complement the moment rather than overwhelm it.

Accomplishment Moments are experiences that challenge us to go outside of our comfort zone, making us proud of our achievements along with a sense of recognition for what we’ve accomplished. 

These are the moments we experience when we successfully paddle a more challenging river than we’re used to, when we’re taking in the views as we celebrate reaching the summit or while sharing photos of our adventures with friends afterward.

We can help guests reach those moments by using well-known objectives like reaching a summit, creating challenges like Canmore’s triple crown or identifying their personal goals, and then providing the coaching needed to support them, creating meaningful milestones along the way and celebrating the results afterward.

Learning Moments are insightful experiences that rewire our understanding of the world and how we think, leaving us with the feeling that everything now makes sense. 

These are the moments we experience when ice climbing suddenly becomes effortless or when the link between the migration of golden eagles and mountain formation becomes obvious, leaving us to see the region from a new perspective.

We can help guests reach those moments by sharing a clear insight and then allowing them to discover the answer while helping them link the facts together along the way.

Connection Moments are bonding experiences that make us feel welcomed as part of a group or in a place, giving us the sense that we belong here and shared meaning. It’s the warmth we feel as relationships grow, whether it’s within ourselves or amongst friends and family. 

These are the moments we experience when we share a special goosebump, learning or accomplishment moment with friends or family. We can help guests reach those moments by creating situations where they work together as a group toward a meaningful shared goal. 

These are also the moments we experience when we get the feeling of “having arrived” when returning to a place that means a lot to us. We can help guests reach those moments by providing opportunities for them to get to know locals on a personal level, sharing stories that create personal connections and giving them the time to immerse themselves. 

These moments are similar to the other three with the difference being that the feeling of connection with others or the place is the most memorable part of the experience.

Great Experiences Are Multidimensional

We refer to experiences based on their peak moment but great experiences are the result of a combination of moments. 

The moments’ compass helps us visualize our products to create a well-balanced experience for our guests.

  • Experiences that only include one type of moment tend to fall flat. For example, learning about limber pines while floating down the North Saskatchewan River with a local guide is a much stronger learning moment than simply reading about limber pines while at home.
  • Experiences that have two or more moments in the outside band tend to lack focus, leading to a distracting guest experience and a confusing marketing message. For example, attempting to teach guests about limber pine as they push their limits paddling down the North Saskatchewan River while trying to enjoy the sun setting on the Wilson Icefield is unlikely to be successful. 
  • The best adventures have one peak moment with the other three types of moments in a supporting role. For example, the goosebump moment of catching the sun setting on the Wilson Icefields is augmented by a local guide sharing a few stories of the limber pine that provide context, the company of a few good friends and trying something new by floating down the North Saskatchewan River on a raft.