|Vice President—Content/Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero|
I was laughing with a colleague the other day when he told me how relieved he was when a scheduled trip was suddenly canceled. This freed him up to get some pressing work done. The funny part was that we both considered it a luxury to even have the time to do things that aren’t necessarily fun.
Time remains one of the greatest luxuries for all of us. Whether we’re working harder, over-scheduling appointments or over-committing to tasks we can’t possibly do in a 24-hour day, most of us are always rather desperate to get an endless list of things done.
Much of this is admittedly self-imposed. I don’t know what it’s like in your city but here in New York, people cross busy intersections as cars race by them, heads down, reading their e-mails. On the sidewalks, they’ll even stop dead in their tracks to type a response as piles of people crash into them. Sometimes it makes me want to move out of the city, because it’s all so stupid, but that’s what we’ve become—multitasking crazy people with no time to even look up to see if a car is about to kill us.
The point of all this is that if you can give your clients the gift of time, you’re doing them a great service. This can be done in little ways. Furnish them with an itinerary with details and contact information that’s so complete they don’t have to spend a second wondering how to get around a strange city. Or, set them up with an excellent car and a driver who is so professional they’ll feel like they’re walking on air from the moment they first meet him. You’ve all experienced it, after you’ve landed at the airport, gotten your luggage and been met by a gracious attendant who takes your bags and leads you to a new, gorgeous, air-conditioned sedan with bottles of cold water waiting in the cup holders—these are the moments when you feel like a very special billionaire and suddenly your mind is freed up from worry so you can focus on your destination, on what you’re seeing outside the car window (unless you’re on your BlackBerry).
Save Time With a Personal Touch
How else can you save your client’s time? By cutting back on all the e-mails that go back and forth to arrange their trips and picking up the phone to speak to them to iron out the final details.
Calling your client may also help you get to the emotion of why they’re traveling. You may detect nervousness in their voice that leads you to ask if there’s any reason they haven’t been able to commit to their trip, or they may excitedly tell you that they’re going because they’re celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. If you don’t get any vibe, nothing cuts through it all more quickly than “Hello, I just had a quick question: Is anyone celebrating a birthday or a special event on this vacation?” or “I’ve tentatively set your departure date for October 15 and I wanted to confirm that works for you and to ask which credit card I can use for the down payment.”
You’ll probably save yourself time, too. Think of all those e-mails with minor questions that you have to respond to the first thing in the morning, usurping the items on your carefully prepared “to do” list. Save the e-mails for overseas suppliers who’ve gotten back to you while you were sleeping. Give yourself the luxury of time and you’ll be free to do the things you really love—like crafting dream trips for yourself or your clients.