The other week, one of my clients was celebrating a birthday. I sat down, wrote out a nice birthday message on a blank birthday card, and mailed it to her. A few days later, I received a phone call from her – my birthday card was really thoughtful, unexpected, and made her day. I scored HYOOGE brownie points with that client not only by remembering her birthday, but personalizing that remembrance.
It’s a discussion I’ve seen repeated many times on various internet forums and Facebook groups: handwritten notes have become so rare, that doing so is a really big deal to the average client. Consider that according to the US Post Office, in 2010 the average home received a personal letter once every seven weeks, compared to one every two weeks in 1987. One note, every two months. When I heard that statistic, I was blown away. I knew that mail volume at the Post Office had dropped quite a bit since email, social media communication, and texting had become more commonplace, but I had no idea it had dropped that much. All of us are chained to computers all the time, and sending an email or zipping out a quick Facebook message has become convenient and easy, not to mention incredibly cheap, when compared to sending something more personal. The more I sent something personalized and handwritten, the more comments I got, the more I realized this is a giant cornerstone of the personal touch I want clients to think of when they consider using my services.
Consider the following:
Time: Handwritten notes take more time to put together than something on the computer. One has to think about what to say, how to say it, and how to spell it correctly, because once you put pen to paper, there is no autocorrect or spellcheck, and no erasing a mistake. So, a handwritten note conveys more time spent on that person, on that message, and that speaks volumes to the recipient.
Money: Email and social media is extremely cheap, if the cost of internet access is averaged across the volume of messages sent in a day. Comparatively, handwritten notes cost more: the card stock, the pen, the envelope, the postage. People like it when money is spent on them, even if it’s a stamp. Going hand in hand with the time factor, it says a lot.
Investment: Taking the time and spending the money to handwrite a note or a letter to a client is an investment in that client. It’s a way of saying, “Hey, you are important to me.” Such a simple act that leaves no doubt that the client is more than just another walking dollar sign.
Permanance: Handwritten notes are likely to be more permanent than emails or other impersonal communication. They have meaning to people, and the one thing we strive for is to be in the client’s mind when they consider travel. To do that, we have to be in the client’s mind in the first place, and this is a toe in that door.
Take a look at your operations, and see where you can inject a handwritten note to remind the client that they’re important to you. It’s mentioned time after time how our business is all based on relationship-building; how can you build that relationship without handwriting something periodically?
Keep an eye out for Part 2, with suggestions on what to write and what words to use!
Steve Cousino, ACC, CTA, LS has been a travel professional since 2005 and currently owns Exclusive Events At Sea (http://www.exclusiveeventsatsea.com) and Journeys By Steve (http://www.journeysbysteve.com) with specializations in group cruising, individual ocean & river cruising, and personalized experiences in Europe, especially the British Isles. In addition, Steve heads up WordPressForTravelAgents.com, an email-based WordPress education system designed specifically for the busy travel professional. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.