13 Ways To Reward Your Clients During The Gift-Giving Season

by Steve Gillick

It’s only two months before holiday gift-giving time and already travel advisors are wondering if they should give something to their clients, and if so, what is appropriate? With hundreds (and perhaps thousands) in your database, you need to do something meaningful but cost effective.

The old expression is, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” While other agencies in the community are busy servicing clients, you can go one better by delegating a lot of work to interested parties, while carrying on with the Fall workload. Your competition won’t know how you did it!

Here are a few preliminary steps:

First, create a page on your website and give it an appropriate title, e.g., ABC Travel’s Ultimate List of Lists, or Gifts for our Clients and Future Clients. You will need this page to post the results of your munificence.

Then brainstorm with your colleagues to put together a list of clients who have in-depth knowledge of a particular niche market or destination, or are simply upbeat, friendly and volunteer-oriented.  These are the people you will approach to help with your initiative. You can acknowledge them for their expertise on your website (name, photo and brief background).

And finally, approach the local travel school or college to see if the teachers or professors may be interested in a special seasonal student assignment.

Then put it all together with a list of topics that you have in mind, plus other topics that your Writing-Research Team might suggest. You may want to invite all the “volunteers” to an information session to get the ball rolling. Assign topics, suggest a standard length for submissions, establish deadlines for completion, and start building your client gift page.

Here are 13 starter topics that individuals on your team might produce. Then it’s just a matter of reviewing and editing them (again, one of your clients may love to do this for you) and posting them on the site. An e-blast can announce what you have done to enhance the joys of travel in the gift-giving season through education, common sense, humor and great ideas to stimulate those “I need to travel soon” wishes for 2017.

  • How To Become A Foodie: Cover the basic components of foodie travel from farm and market visits to shopping, preparing and eating the food, and then pairing with craft beers or wines or cocktails.
  • Silly Cruise Ship Questions: A humorous piece for which much of the information is available online or your cruise ship contacts can contribute. My favorite is, “What does the chef do with the ice sculptures after they melt?”
  • Bargaining 101: In many countries, from Morocco to China, bargaining is the expected way to shop for goods, but it can be intimidating for those with no prior experience. This article is a primer on how to look at goods, how to ask for prices, how to start the process, how to not get intimidated, learning to walk away and ultimately purchasing the goods at a fair price to you and the seller.
  • How To Negotiate The Airport: Novice travelers can gain confidence by reading what to do after they enter the local airport, and then a typical international airport. How do they use the check-in kiosks, why the various lines in front of the check-in counters? What to expect at the security check? What to do before the flight departs? The method airlines use to board flights and more.
  • What Do I Do When I Arrive? As a follow-up to negotiating the airport, this is for the novice traveler who has little or no experience arriving at an airport. Filling out customs and immigration forms, going through immigration, getting your baggage, finding your tour company rep or finding a taxi or bus to get to the accommodation.
  • Local Travel Scams: An awareness article, not to scare or intimidate travelers but to fortify their confidence in the context of being aware of their surroundings. Scams can start with changing money (yes, even at the airport), to getting into the taxi, to getting to your destination in the taxi, to checking into the hotel, and more.
  • The Market Scene: For niche travelers who wish to know where all the markets are located in a particular city (food, clothing, jewelery, animals, antiques, flowers, souvenirs, etc). This is a good research topic for clients who have a particular love for one city or for students eager to research a city. What markets are available? Where are they located and what is the best way to arrive? Market hours? Specialties and best buys?
  • Scenic Memories: A great one for photographers and nature lovers. These would be a destination-based list of the most scenic places to visit, from lookouts on mountain tops overlooking the city or the sea, to local waterfalls, botanical gardens, ancient temples, autumn leaves, cherry blossoms, etc.
  • Sonic Memories: For nature lovers, music lovers and those who just want to unplug and listen to nothing. This is a destination-based list that could include symphonic or rock music opportunities as well as where to enjoy babbling brooks or ocean waves, where to encounter the sound of the wind whistling through the trees, or crunching leaves in the autumn or bird calls all year-round.
  • Getting To Know The Locals: A destination-based list that deals with demography—the different cultures, local dress, cuisine, architecture, celebrations and festivals.
  • Literature: Guide books usually have a list of books related to the destination but if you have repeat destination clients, you could probably assemble a great list of books that they’ve consumed over the years, related to a destination.
  • How To Survive A Long-Haul Flight: Have some of your clients who regularly visit long-haul destinations reveal what they do for the 10 or 15 hours on the flight. How do they prepare beforehand, any special seating tips they have, ideas for stretching, walking, and eating during the flight, etc.
  • Packing: No matter how many packing tips are out there, there is always room for new ideas from travelers in the know. What are their secret tips? What do they bring that you would never have even considered? How do they pack for a multi-season destination or a multi-event (casual to formal) holiday?

The gifts you give to your clients (and future clients) need not cost money—just a bit of time to organize a crew of volunteers who may be more than willing to be acknowledged as experts.  And who knows, you may be subliminally tying these volunteers to your travel services by showing them how much you care for the industry and community. And that’s kind of rewarding when you think about it.

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