As a travel agent in a highly digital world, your greatest competitor is the online booking industry. Your greatest advantage is that you are living, breathing, highly-qualified human being. You know your travelers well and you care that they have an exceptional travel experience. This is something a booking engine can never compete with.
You’ve worked hard to develop loyal relationships with your clients. Show them your appreciation by finding creative ways to thank them. Here are a few fun ideas!
1. Send a handwritten note
In an article for the Harvard Business Review, author John Coleman calls handwritten notes “a rare commodity” that can show a “deeper investment and appreciation than a simple thank you can”. While the average user receives about 121 emails a day, the average home receives only one handwritten letter every 7 weeks. The rarity of handwriting, especially in the business world, makes personal notes more meaningful than ever before. Invest in some well-made postcards and make handwritten notes a part of your company culture. Decide if you want your cards to reach your travelers before or after their trip, or at set times each year such as major holidays.
2. Provide lunch
This works great for a corporate client with a small office staff. Let them know you’d like to buy them lunch and ask them when a convenient day would be. Bonus points if you can go in person and join them for the lunch!
3. Send some swag
If you have cool trinkets you use for tradeshows, send your clients a little gift set with your favorite branded items – a nice journal or passport case, a travel mug or quality water bottle, luggage tags and a couple of chapsticks! Don’t forget to include a note of appreciation!
4. Give them a shout-out
When your clients return from their trip, ask if they have a fun photo or story they would let you share from your agency’s social media platforms. This is a great way to get fresh content for your accounts while giving your client a chance to share some feedback with you! When asking, make sure you are clear with your clients on where and how their content will be shared and don’t be pushy.
5. Make a donation to a charity
Celebrate a top client by giving a donation to their favorite charity in their name. This is a great way to celebrate holidays or other major events instead of sending a traditional gift basket or food.
6. Pay for an upgrade
If you’ve been in the travel industry for a while, you know that free upgrades are getting fewer and farther in between. Offering a small upgrade to your most loyal customers is a great way to surprise and delight them. This could be paying to bump them up to a seat with extra legroom or coordinating with their hotel to have chocolate strawberries waiting in their room. Be creative!
7. Send a fun treat
If you’re looking for a gift item besides a goodie basket or tin of popcorn try caramel apples, a few bags of great coffee for the break room, a box of macarons from New Orleans, or a fudge sampler from one of Mackinac Island’s famous fudge shops.
8. Create a survival kit for long flights
This is a fun gift for top clients that you can customize to fit your price range. Send this kit out a few weeks before their big trip and include items such as eye masks, earplugs, TSA-approved snacks, mini toiletries and a travel-sized game!
9. Celebrate a unique holiday
Christmas and birthday cards are definitely important, but if your clients get a lot of mail they might get a little lost in the shuffle. If you can think outside the box, your snail mail or email campaign is more likely to get some attention. Consider sending cards for half birthdays or a “Happy First Day of Spring” email. When daylight savings hits, send your top clients a $5 Starbucks card to get them through the time change.