When Leighsa Francis and her husband, Randall, wanted to stand out in the real estate business, they went on vacation--and brought customers with them. The owners of Bend Real Estate Team Inc. in Bend, Oregon, took a builder and his wife and daughter to Hawaii for a week of fun in the sun. When they sold a house to his cousin, they took his family, too.
"It's a great way to say thank you and build strong relationships through a personal touch," says Leighsa. "The investment you make comes back in spades." Indeed, the Francises' excursion paid off big time: The couple got four referrals from the cousin, and the builder now works with them exclusively.
In a shaky economy when everyone is competing even harder for customers' dollars, it's not just entrepreneurs in real estate who are finding that showing top clients some love can keep them loyal. Companies in all fields are turning to unique trips that wow loyal customers and provide unparalleled bonding opportunities. When football tickets just won't cut it, try one of these trips:
- Treat your customers like royalty. You don't have to be a racing fan to appreciate an berluxe trip to the Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo, and Roadtrips Inc. can organize one. There's nothing like hobnobbing with the who's who of European society and enjoying a private tour of Prince Albert's castle to make an impression.
- Put your clients on ice--literally. AssuredEvents.com arranges glacial Super Jeep safaris in the Arctic. Be whisked from the airport in Reykjavik, Iceland, to the country's famed Blue Lagoon, renowned for its multiple hot springs, before launching a quad bike tour of the lunarlike landscape. The long weekend concludes with a champagne toast beneath the Northern Lights.
- It's easy being green when you book the only Green Certified wine tour in Napa and Sonoma, California, through Wine & Dine Events. Stay in eco-friendly resorts; enjoy green spa treatments; take hands-on cooking classes with slow-food movement chefs, who emphasize quality ingredients and sustainability; and sip vintages from environmentally sensitive wineries.
- If you can't swing several grand for each customer, opt for a day trip. A hundred or so each buys a memorable local excursion, like Wanderlust Tours' upscale Dinner Canoe Under the Stars in the Cascade Range in Oregon. Hors d'oeuvres and a gourmet dinner are served on the beach of a mountain lake. Guides then lead a two-hour paddle under the stars. The return includes hot beverages, a campfire and decadent desserts.