Financial counselors always advise taking 10% off the top of your salary and putting it in a savings account for the future. I use this same theory to invest in securing my client’s future business. By providing an unexpected added value, you are showing your appreciation for their business that will develop into a stronger client relationship with all of the loyalties that follow.
Sample calculation using the 10% Rule
Vacation cost for 2 at $4000.00
Commission at 10% is $400.00
10% of $400.00 is $40.00
$40.00 is set aside for client investment
This investment is then returned to the client through various gifts, vouchers or certificates related to their vacation package. In this case, the $40.00 would then be the budget that I allow as an expenditure for gifts for my clients. This can be in many forms, such as a ship board credit, shore excursions, dinner at cruise line’s specialty restaurant, or a fun travel basket that I present to them when I deliver their documents.
Make every travel document you give a client a special presentation. Remember, the idea is to go beyond what is expected. This can be anything from a customized luggage tag for an airline ticket to a basket filled to the brim with goodies that relate to the client’s destination. Any items that you give to a client should have your business name on them. You can use a custom stamp made from your logo, custom stickers or business cards. Then, each time they look at one of your gifts, they will be reminded of you and your services. If you have had brochures made for your company, always include a couple along with extra business cards that they can pass around to friends and family.
Here are just a few other ideas that I have used for gifts when using the 10% rule:
Take an inexpensive plain covered photo album and personalize it with their names, dates of travel and destination by using a metallic gold or silver pen. On the inside cover glue a postcard of their ship (provided by the cruise line). On the back inside cover glue your business and write a personal note, such as “I hope you had a wonderful cruise,” Put the album in a gift basket and include a disposable camera with a note “for your album.”
For honeymoons and anniversaries, include a bottle of champagne (or non-alcoholic sparkling beverage) and 2 champagne glasses. Wrap the basket in cellophane and tie it with a gold wire ribbon.
For a cruise to Alaska, include binoculars and rain ponchos.
When I tie up a basket for cruising, I always like to tie a couple of blow out party favors in the colorful ribbon to give it a festive “Bon Voyage” look.
For under $20.00 I have packed tickets inside of a colorful Piñata, cut the top open and fill it with bright matching color tissue paper. Include items such as sun tan lotion, disposable camera and foreign language book.
Trips to Italy
For about $40.00, I once put together a basket that included the video on Italy. I also included some nice pasta, pasta sauce and a bottle of red wine with a note that said “A little something to get you in the mood before your trip to Italy”.
Trips to Gamble
There are so many “FREE” things that you can get from tourist and visitor’s bureaus. When I called Las Vegas CVB they sent me a box filled with gaming rules, maps to casino, show guides and hotel brochures. For a bachelor party, I contacted the hotel that they were staying at and asked if they could send me some of their coin buckets and used decks of cards for my group. I put the cards, guides and maps inside of the coin buckets. I then added a roll of nickels with a note “To get you started”, and stuck toy money everywhere in and around the tissue paper. I then put it all in a cellophane bag and tied it with black and red ribbon. The “Guys” loved it, and I only spent a few dollars on the nickels and wrapping.
I know what you are thinking…this all takes a lot of time, effort and expense. I am always amazed when travel agents tell me that they don’t make much and can’t afford to do this. However, if you want to be successful and see your business grow, you can’t afford not to do this.
Anita Pagliasso is the author of “How I Made A Small Fortune as a Home-Based Travel Agent” “From Home-Based to POWERHOUSE” and “Anita’s Toolbox for Home-Based Agents CD” (www.redticketproductions.com), President, Host Agency Ticket To Travel (www.travelagentathome.com), Travel Agent Forum Conference Director, and PATH President & Executive Board Member