Do you need a popsicle?

Usually, the most effective customer service tools are the simplest—and the most ingenious. At the Magic Castle Hotel, our service signature is “listen carefully, respond creatively.” And that approach includes fun and innovative touches like our popsicle hotline, a 24-hour poolside popsicle delivery service. The popsicle hotline, of course, is not the only trick in our book, but it shows our customers immediately that we listen carefully and go one step further every time.

And that has made all the difference for us.

Darren Ross introduces Service Freak Academy

Darren RossThe Magic Castle Hotel in Hollywood is consistently recognized by the American Hotel Lodging Association, the California Lodging Association and Trip Advisor for providing outstanding customer service. As the Chief Operating Officer for 13 years, I’m excited to teach others proven philosophies and techniques to create your own fanatically loyal and outspoken customer base. Service Freak Academy will help you drive the mission to create the happiest, most satisfied, most loyal customers on the planet.


  • Joe Furlow

    General Manager of the Private Club, Magic Castle

  • Chip Heath

    Professor, Author and Business Strategist

  • Wally Amos

    Founder of Famous Amos Cookies, Current Owner of The Cookie Kahuna

  • Elena Cantu

    Manager & Buyer, Employee Centers, the Walt Disney Co.

  • Roger McGregor

    Carnival Cruise Lines (Retired), Current owner of Vaulterra

  • WC Wells

    consulting in the hospitality and shopping center development industries

Summer Conference : August 17 — 20, 2016

A unique conference dedicated solely to enhancing customer service

Early Bird and room sharing discounts now available! See Registration section for details.

This three day training conference in Los Angeles will expose attendees to different approaches to service in a fun and engaging way. Participants will have the rare opportunity to evaluate and discuss those experiences with experts across a variety of industries, including leaders from Disney Parks, Carnival Cruise Lines and the founder of Famous Amos cookies. Our “classroom” will be the beautiful and private El Caballero Country Club. Our practical learning will happen in the restaurants, hotels and shops of dynamic Los Angeles, California.

You’ll have a spa treatment in the name of relaxing and gathering intelligence. You’ll visit hotels and restaurants at varying levels. You’ll analyze the service you receive and learn how to apply your experience to your own business or industry. Our goal is for you to leave on Friday with the tools to transform your company into one that is known for its extraordinary service.

Conference takeaways include these gems from years of building service standards at the Magic Castle Hotel:

  • Unique ways to listen carefully, and respond creatively
  • How to do a lot with a little, and measure the results
  • How to assess a service’s value from the unique vantage point of the customer

We’ll be working hard—and the fun is built right in. After a full day of classroom learning, participants will relax together at our nightly cocktail hour before heading out to experience an LA restaurant. You’ll return home a better business leader and a freak about service. The results will speak for themselves (and we’ll show you how to measure them). 

A Sample of the Experience

Thursday's Itinerary

  • Continental Breakfast at Magic Castle Hotel
  • Executive coach transportation to El Caballero Country Club
  • Welcome to the Academy: “Who we are and where we are going”
  • Opening remarks by Darren Ross, Founder, Service Freak
  • Plenary Session 1: Breakdown of and exercises to analyze experiences from Day 1 including: 
    • “Satisfaction ratio”: Dollar value vs. perceived value 
    • Employee projection 
    • Best and Worst and Why
  • Break and refreshments
  • Breakout session 1: Analyzing and prioritizing what your business does well, areas for growth, customer feedback streams
  • Breakout session 2: Public perception of your business—Using feedback to inform change.  
  • Lunch: Country club dining room experience.
  • Keynote Speaker: Joe Furlow, General Manager Magic Castle Club – Changing public perception and coming out alive.    
  • Break
  • Round up of Day 2 sessions and framework for the evening’s experience
  • Happy Hour 
  • Dinner at a renowned restaurant founded by two of the food world’s most well-known and respected chefs. Lessons from experience to be broken down at next day in interactive session.

Bring the family!Bring the family!

While you are at the conference, your family members can enjoy the sights of Los Angeles and all the Magic Castle Hotel has to offer. There is plenty of space in your one bedroom suite, which can sleep five. There is no extra charge for your family staying in your suite. 

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Sampling of the Venues

  • Magic Castle

    Private Nightclub, Hollywood

  • El Caballero Country Club

    San Fernando Valley

  • Mastro's Ocean Club Restaurant


  • Osteria Mozza

    Los Angeles

  • Burke Williams Spa

    Los Angeles



Service Freak Academy Summer Conference: August 17 – 20, 2016

Early Bird tickets are no longer available, but act fast to pick up our standard registration at the discounted price of $1950 USD ($1700 if sharing a suite or not staying at the Magic Castle Hotel). The three-day Service Freak Academy includes 3 nights lodging, food and amenities. Arrive Wednesday, August 17th for our welcome dinner and cocktails at the world famous and private Magic Castle Club, located right next door to the hotel. Please note that the conference is 3 days, with a Saturday afternoon departure. If sharing a suite, each of the second and third attendees should purchase the discounted "ADDL REG" registration package. We want you to get the most out of your time with us so we are limiting the number of attendees … so please book now!

Please call me personally with any questions 844-77-FREAK (37325) or email me at

Sincerely, your fellow Service Freak,

Darren Ross
 For standard registration, see this payment calendar:
  • If sharing a suite, the cost is $1700 for each of the second and third attendees. 
  • Early Bird registration has ended and all costs are due at registration.
From check-in to check-out, all participant expenses associated with the conference are paid, including five nights in a Magic Castle Hotel in a one-bedroom suite, all transportation to and from events and all meals and refreshments. Family members stay free at the hotel but other expenses are not included.
** Airfare and transportation to and from the airport are not included.

Accommodations at the Magic Castle Hotel


Magic Castle Hotel

7025 Franklin Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 851-0800

Service Freak Academy