Column: Take Your Travel Documents to the Next Level

Ruthanne Terrero, Vice President—Content/Editorial Director
Ruthanne Terrero, Vice President—Content/Editorial Director

I worked at a classy major department store as a temp during the holidays many years ago. On my first day, a savvy colleague, who was full time, gave me the lowdown on how she mailed out gifts that had been purchased at the store. “We tell the customers we’ll wrap it up in gift paper, but I don’t do that,” she said. “I just put it in the box, no paper, and send it off. There’s no way the customer will ever know the difference.”

To this day, when I order something online from this very same store, the way I receive items varies wildly. A white lace dress that was delivered recently had been carefully packaged in a high quality box with tissue paper sealed with an embossed sticker of the store’s logo, all tied up with a silk ribbon. Opening it up was sheer pleasure. I don’t care if the dress fits or not, I just want to stare at it in the box all day. It’s heavenly, I tell you. But the other day I received another outfit from the same store that had been folded into a tiny square and sealed in a plastic bag with only a UPC sticker on it. I was aghast, considering the price of the item. It was what they call in customer service, “a poor user experience.” I’ll bet it was packaged by that same girl I knew years ago.

Which leads me to ask: How do you deliver trip documents to your customers from your office? Does it depend on the mood of the advisor, or is there a consistent policy in the way the paperwork and brochures for an expensive trip must be presented?

Have you taken your concept of packaging to the next level and made the unwrapping process an exciting event for the client? And, is your branding all over it in an elegant manner or is the paperwork wildly generic, akin to what your client could achieve by printing out their documents on their home printer?

In our August 10 issue we quote American Express Travel’s new “Future Travel Trends” survey, which reveals that while a majority of consumers prefer to use technology for certain aspects of their trip, a personal touch remains critical. In fact, 93 percent feel the value of personal service cannot be replaced by digital technology. Those surveyed said they prefer a personalized itinerary to a packaged one and that the level of personalized customer service they receive while traveling can really make or break the trip.

The important thing to realize is that any fabulously personalized vacation begins with the purchase process, a huge part of which is the delivery of documents, which is often the only actual tangible thing you hand over to your client. The rest is memories and experiences.

Take another look at how you’re executing this important part of your client’s interaction with you. Be sure you’ve got the right person on your team taking care of it and that you’re not letting technology oversimplify the process.