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Customer service versus a travel app for that?

When you meet with a client to go over their upcoming travel adventure, what do you present to them?

In the 21st century, it seems everything is electronic from e-tickets for flights to e-docs for cruises, even some of the European trains have gone to e-tickets. A client pays thousands of dollars or more and they receive a thank you email along with a confirmation number. This is what many of the big tour operators and cruises have done in the name of saving money; and yes, it may save money.  We try to reduce paper in the name of environment.  Some suppliers still provide a nice packet so the clients have something in hand, but not all.  Personally, if I use multiple suppliers, I create my own folder with personalized labels.

E- documents are not a bad thing in theory, but in most cases, yes even the millennials, clients want something tangible to show that they are in for an experience and not a confirmation number. Recently when I met with a mother and daughter to go over the details of their upcoming trip to Europe (first timers), I presented them with a travel packet with information and their necessary documents which included printable hotel, tour and transfer vouchers, as well as rail tickets (even an e-ticket between Venice and Rome), but still a ticket they would need to present to the conductor on that train.  They were extremely excited to receive this packet.  It made their upcoming travel adventure real.

Also, in my packets, I provided an overview itinerary of their trip and suggestions to make their adventure less stressful including customary suggestions in each country, locations of consulates and embassies, reminders in writing about checking in, calling their credit card company and banks before traveling and even some necessary foreign words and phrases for the countries in which they will be traveling. I even provide metro and walking directions if appropriate, current currency exchange rates and emergency contact information, including my own, to address any questions along the way. I give them all the options—phone, email, text, and carrier pigeon. I explain that the information is subject to change, but in the worst case, it gives the client something to start.

While it is true that everything can be found online these days; and there is an app for this and an app for that, the clients appreciate the extra detail including a printed copy of some of the destination guides for their trip from Travel Research Online (a free resource).

Some may say that this is a waste of time and perhaps a waste of paper, but for a client spending thousands of dollars on their travel adventure, I beg to differ. For the past 7+ years I have been doing this; and have developed a library of information which I can update and cut and paste into a general itinerary for the client to make their trip easier. And I am happy to do so. I am not re-inventing the wheel; and if a new development arises, or something changes, it is easily handled.

I know that some clients will remove what they feel they do not need, especially the more seasoned traveler–and that’s fine. They have paid me to arrange their travel adventure and if they do not feel the need, that is fine. I remember in my early days of traveling, I had the “Let’s Go” series and would only tear out the appropriate sections and head on out. And while technology makes a lot of a document presentation redundant, at the very least it offers a reminder to clients of various needs for the trip.

Some clients live for my magical blue folder.  One of my clients said that the blue folder was like their bible. When they had forgotten something, they just looked at the information and more often than not, it was right there for them putting them at ease during their trip.

My clients know I am there throughout their trip. We are in a service industry and every little detail, good or bad, is a reflection on our business and what we are to our clients.  Yes, there is an app for this and an app for that, but the little blue folder I provide is a reminder (and a memory) of their travel adventure that I helped arrange. When they are looking to travel again or hear from friends and family who are looking for someone to arrange travel, that little blue folder is a reminder.  They can show it to them which brings me more business; there is something to be said about old fashioned customer service handled by something as simple as a little blue folder full of detailed information.

What do you do for your clients? Give them the confirmation numbers and ask them to print out their cruise e-docs or do you create some sort of personalized itinerary and packet to present to them to remind them of what you have arranged for them?

Jamison has traveled to over 35 countries, including most of Europe. Wandering Puffin LLC. Is located in Plymouth, MN. Jamison can be reached by email at jamie@wanderingpuffin.com or by phone at  763-244-0669. www.wanderingpuffin.com.

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