Provide a Personalized Touch

What can you give your well-off clients to show that you recognize and appreciate their business?

For starters, you could have their hotel suite filled with caviar and the best champagne available as a welcome gift, but chances are, if they really wanted that, they'd probably just order it from room service. You could give them a silver-plated luggage tag with your logo on it, but I doubt that that would even make it into their junk drawer. Truly, what can you give the client who already has everything?

If you really think about it, the things that really wow your A-listers cost next to nothing. They typically want to be recognized and that's about it. If a hotel records that a top client prefers Johnnie Walker Black and arranges to have a bottle of it in his suite when he arrives (don't forget the glass of ice and a side of soda), think of how over the moon that guest is going to feel. He's going to want to return with his family next trip and possibly host his next board meeting here, simply because the hotel has acknowledged that they know exactly what he wants after a 12-hour flight. And what's the cost of a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black? Somewhere in the $30 range, if I'm correct.

 Ruthanne Terrero

In the realm of the marketing dollars that are spent to have a one-to-one relationship with such a high-net-worth individual, the proportionate cost of the bottle to the hotel is actually less than $0. In other cases you may happen to know that a client has given up drinking, so instead of a welcome bottle of wine you'll arrange for milk and cookies or something equally charming to be in his room when he arrives.

I encourage you to treat your clients in a similar fashion. You probably know them better than you think you do. If you have a customer who always seems to dash into your agency on her way home from yoga class, buy her a deluxe spa treatment at the resort you've reserved for her family vacation. (Better yet, purchase a time slot that allows her to consult with the spa therapist so that she can customize her own treatment; aside from being recognized, the affluent like to have their options.)

A Personal Welcome Letter Goes a Long Way

Agnès de Bousquet, the director of sales and marketing of the Hotel Plaza Athénée, who paid a visit to our New York offices a few months ago, says that her property now has a program wherein travel agents may have a personalized welcome letter, on their own letterhead, placed in their guests' rooms when they check in. De Bousquet says that these clients, who are typically booking the best suites in the house, are mesmerized that the agent was able to welcome them in such a personal manner. Again, the cost to the hotel? Next to nothing. The only price paid was the time and the thought that went into executing the deed. And the benefits for their reputation—and your own—are incalculable.

Ron Raridon, Manager ronr@towncentretravel.com

Ruthanne Terrero, CTC Editorial Director rterrero@questex.com

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