The Power Of Saying, “Thank You!”

In today’s fast paced environment we often forget the simple act of saying thank you. These two words can make a huge difference in both the business and personal spheres. In business, it can be the difference of receiving increased business referrals, and in the personal sphere it can increase and strengthen your circle of friends.

At the end of the day, people will forget what you said; forget what you did; but will never forget how you made them feel. Saying thank you is one of the most powerful tools you have in creating and sustaining success.

When I launched my company a few years ago, there were quite a few individuals who helped me. I have never forgotten what they did for me and to this day continue to thank you on a regular basis. Not only has it strengthened by relationships with each person, it has created a professional network I can count on for referrals.

Hand writing Thank You with blue marker on transparent wipe board.
Here my tips for saying ‘Thank You’

1. Thank You for Time: Always thank someone when they make time to meet with you or talk to you over the phone. They have given up valuable time to make this happen. Remember, in today’s world, time is money!

When I interview candidates for a vacant position, my minimal expectation is to receive a thank you e-mail. Imagine my astonishment when I receive a hand written note – an art form that is fading due to the technology so readily available. You would be amazed how often a thank you is not received after an interview. The lack of a thank you note shows me that the candidate is either lazy, does not have what it takes to follow up or failed to realize that a thank you note could have secured their employment.

2. Allow the thanks to flow like a mini river: Always thank your clients for the business no matter how small or hard the project was.  It amazes me how often individuals forget this. The reason stated is generally, ‘I was so busy!’ Well, everyone is busy and if the client is important to you for repeat business, and it is to your benefit to thank them, you will find the time.

I have a friend who is accountant. He took on a client who gave him additional assignments beyond the contracted assignments. He completed everything in a timely manner; got paid and life moved on. The client sent him a wonderful thank you note for the work he completed, expressing how well everything turned out.  He did not respond immediately. A few weeks later, he realized he had not heard from the client. So he sent them an e-mail and learned that they had hired someone else, since they had not heard from him in response to their thank you note. They concluded that he was not satisfied with the additional workload and found someone else. In reality this was untrue and due to my friend not responding to the client lost a huge opportunity. A lesson learned.

3. Do Not Use Tired Clichés:  Though is important saying thank you to your clients, always remember to make it personal to them.

Clichéd sayings such as: ‘Thank you for your business’ or ‘We appreciate your patronage’ does not do much to personalize your thanks. Avoid clichéd language and focus on your clients by name.  The moment you say business you have made the client realize that despite the rapport you shared, at the end of the day they simply represent a business transaction. This diminishes the relationship you have worked so hard to develop.

When you acknowledge the client by name, they will notice that right away vs. a phrase such  as ‘Thank you for your business’.

4. Know when to send a professional thank you letter: In most business settings, a quick thank you note will suffice. However, there are occasions which warrant a more formal thank you letter or e-mail.

An example of such a situation can be expressing thanks to outside professionals who attend an event as a guest speaker or tradeshow exhibitor and external organizations that provide services to you especially with no charge.

In these cases a well thought out thank you letter is need. Keep the length to no than a page.

Here is an example:
Pillow Mint Partners
PO Box 1234, 
Los Angeles, CA  90025

Dear Mr. Jackson,

Thank you so much for attending Javanese 4th Annual Conference on August 27, 2012. Thank you for delivering your presentation, “The Upcoming Trends In Business Communications.” The discussion that ensued really got a lot of people thinking how to incorporate the new technology into their daily business practices. In the days since the conference, we’ve received many positive responses relating to your presentation. It was really wonderful. If you’re available to speak again next year, we’d love to have you back!

Sincerely, 
Amita Patel
Founder, Pillow Mint Partners
The example has the right amount of formality that it can be either a letter or an e-mail. The language is not stuffy and is directed to the recipient on a personal basis.

5. Be spontaneous with thank you’s: saying thank you is not reserved just for business. Saying you on daily basis on a non-business level is also essential.  Saying thank you to people you encounter on a daily basis is great way to feel good about yourself, while also making someone else’s day a letter brighter. It can also create loyalty. Here are a few ideas:

a. Say thank you to your barista next time you go in for your daily coffee. Add, ‘Have a great day!’  You will be amazed at the smile you get back in return.

b. Thank the bagger at the local grocery store. It is not often they are thanked and you will be rewarded by their huge smile.

c. Thank the person at the car wash that washed your car when giving him/her their tip.

You get the idea…

6 Fabulous Tips For Remaining Productive On Business Travel

Business travel is an essential part of life and yes, it can be exhausting. Last year I had thirteen business trips – conducting sales calls and attending trade shows.  Then there is the choice of keeping up with the workload while on the road, or tackling it when returning to the office. Guess which option I choose – yep! I choose to keep up with the workload while traveling. It was one of my most exhausting years ever! However, I was able to stay on top of everything and not miss a beat!

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So here I am sharing my tips of how stay productive while on the road and still keep sane!

Stay Organized
Those who know me know I am a fanatic about staying organized. Everything has its place and purpose. This is essential when meeting with clients or making presentations. I make sure that my laptop is fully charged and carry a power pack just in case. In addition, I have a HDMI cable to connect into projectors for PowerPoint presentations.

My briefcase contains the basics: laptop, i-pad (easier to use on a flight) phone charger, headphones, USB Wi-Fi stick, a portable hard drive, post-it notes, highlighters, lots of pens ( I am always misplacing them), a mini stapler and paper clips. Yes, I am a walking office supply store!

Plan Your Meeting Ahead of Time
I am a notorious for planning my trips in advance and making sure all the details are mapped out.  On a typical day of sales calls, I will plan no more than 4 calls and 1 client dinner/cocktails. This gives me the time to not only make a presentation to the client but also allows time to have a through Q&A session. The client does not feel rushed and is at ease. The benefit for you – minimal stress.  Ahhhh!

Generally my trip is planned out a week in advance which includes shipping any collateral, giveaways etc. to the hotel where I am staying. I always include a return shipping label so I can ship items back without any hassles.

By planning ahead will make you more efficient and productive. You will gain time to respond to any emails from your clients back home, keep caught on projects and still have time to relax and unwind.

Be Prepared For Any Unplanned Downtime
When traveling, plans often change without notice. A client may need to cancel or reschedule a meeting. Now you have some extra time in between meetings – the key is not to return to your hotel room – but rather find a spot where you can be productive.

Here’s how I stay prepared:

I always have my i-pad (I splurged and purchased the Wi-Fi package) which is easier to use in public than my laptop.  I also map out Wi-Fi friendly cafes in close proximity to my hotel and client offices. I am always prepared for the unexpected!

Set Up Your Hotel Room
The first thing I do when I check into my hotel room is unpack. Whether it is 1 day or a 4 day stay, I always unpack so it does not interfere with my work later. I also lay out my clothes the night before so I don’t have to rush in the morning (I am not a morning person). It also allows me to iron my clothes if wrinkled.
The next thing I do is setup the desk area for work. I charge my laptop, i-pad and phone and unload my travel office supplies. I do keep the TV on in the background when working because it helps me concentrate (a throwback to my college days when I kept the radio on).  This may not work for you.

Track Your Expenses
Though there are apps to track expenses such as Expensify, I am old school. I keep an envelope. I paperclip each day of expenses so when I am ready to submit my expense report; all the receipts are in order.

To learn how stay on track with your budget when traveling click here.

Workout –  Even For 30 Minutes
Always pack your sneakers and gym clothes and look for a hotel that has a gym or provides access to a nearby gym. I have found that even when I work out for a minimum of 30 minutes I am more focused and productive. I am more relaxed and alert. If there is no gym, put on your sneakers and walk a block or so around the hotel.

Business travel is exhausting, but is also rewarding not only in terms of spending time and establishing relationships with clients, but also in terms of building a strong network. These clients will eventually become wonderful allies in business.  Remember to make time for yourself – talk a walk – indulge in a treat and simply enjoy!

Key Marketing Trends for 2016

As we head into the full swing of the New Year and begin to implement our sales and marketing strategies, it is important to know the key trends are to keep abreast of the competition.

2016-marketing-trendsWith technology changing every day, it has become abundantly clear that digital marketing has become more competitive thanks to online travel agencies, Meta search engines and the increasingly sophisticated web presence of various hotels.

In order to remain ahead of the pack, hotels must be prepared to wisely channel their time and resources into devising effective strategies in order to obtain positive results.

*Ongoing investment in your website – the company’s most important real estate
The consumer is going to review at least 2 to 3 websites before making a purchasing decision. It is imperative that your website has a responsive design, supports dynamic content personalization, offers dynamic rate marketing and it updated on an ongoing basis in order to remain competitive.

*Dynamic content personalization – the newest tool
Adding fresh content frequently to your website these days is not enough. The latest buzz is creating dynamic website experiences through content personalization designed to increase conversions.
This is accomplished by accessing and analyzing viewing history, reviews, past purchases, demographic information or psychographic segmentation in order to generate a customized experience.

*Why it is time for ‘Real Time’
Dynamic rate marketing in the hotel booking world is fairly common.

Real time hotel pricing and room availability is displayed in the various marketing channels such as display advertising, Meta search, retargeting, Google AdWords, email marketing, and keeping your Google Business Listings up-to-date.

It is not a difficult process to set up, and dynamic rate marketing can dramatically increase conversions and boost ROI.

*Make the consumer engage with your website on multiple occasions
On average, consumers will visit a website up to 10 times before making a purchase.
So it is important that the consumer is engaged enough to make multiple visits to your website, which hopefully will lead to a booking!
To increase conversion rates, it is crucial to analyze all areas of your sales funnel, create attribution pathways and focus your efforts on the highest converting pathways.
Reviewing all parts of the campaign as a whole rather than each one in isolation will help you to make a more informed decision.

*How to fight OTA’s
Even though OTA’s have a seemingly unlimited budget, a strong and sensible online strategy can divert these potential bookings to the hotels website.
A hotel can be quicker and react faster to making changes that an OTA. Hotels need to be more targeted and focused. In addition, hotels have the ability to spend more money on the direct property site.
Combined with a great marketing automation strategy and an enticing rewards program for returning guests, a hotel’s digital marketing strategy has the power to wrestle traffic from OTAs and raise revenues.

*Why Video Will Continue to Dominate
YouTube dominates the video world. It is also important to know how to use video across different channels such as Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. Video is the best way to grab potential guests’ attention in this media heavy world. Keep the video no longer than 60 minutes after which the attention span wanes.

How does one do this: Create a quarterly video content calendar. The quarterly format helps you keep the content fresh and relevant for throughout the year.  Come up with at least one video per month and make each video topical. Focus on something related to your property that will interest your guests. Some ideas include: local points of interest, guides, maps, history, and employee stories.

Create a strategy for marketing these videos after you produce them. Decide how you will share them via email and social. They should be fully integrated into your existing email and social strategy. Videos will also improve your SEO because their bounce rates are lower, which means that your website users will stay on your site longer increasing your rankings. Additionally, your website will be able to rank on Google’s video search.

*Revisit Your Branding and Make Refinements
With a New Year it is time to think about updating your brand assets. This includes updating pictures on your website and social media channels. It’s important to keep images up-to-date and fresh to present the best image of your property.

Revisit the story your property is trying to tell. Your story and branding will drive the content you produce and the social media strategy you create. The story you tell should attract the type of guests you are looking for. If you are a ski and snowboarding lodge in Japan, your story is much different than a luxury hotel on the beach in Hawaii.

*Online Reviews why they are so important
At least 80% of consumers will check TripAdvisor re: reviews on your property, especially if they have never visited your hotel. Conduct a thorough audit of all online review channels and respond accordingly. It is best to respond to all reviews, but the negative ones are especially important. It looks bad for your property to have an unresolved negative review on the books. Even if you cannot change the guests’ experience, you can mitigate damage to your brand by explaining circumstances and being gracious and magnanimous.

Reviews are also a good way to gauge how your property performed over the past year. Guests’ reviews will you give you great insight into what you are already doing well at, and where there is room for improvement.  Marketing strategies can be created from online reviews as well as customer experience issues.

*Mobile Optimize Your Website
Mobile will only become increasingly more important. This should be taken seriously. Frankly if your website is not mobile you are definitely behind the times – create one. If you currently have one, make sure the pages display correctly.

Then, go through the booking process on multiple different mobile devices such as an iPhone, an Android phone, and a tablet. The way a website displays will vary based on the device, so it is best to test on multiple devices.

Self-Reflection – The Key to Professional and Personal Growth

As the countdown on New Year’s Eve began to usher in 2016 as 2015 faded away, I began to reflect how 2015 impacted me in many ways and how those impacts has influenced and shaped the decisions I have made for in 2016. It also made realize that I need to assess my strengths/weakness and focus on areas where I need to improve.

self-reflection-pillow-mint-partnersExperience is great place to start for self-reflection. When we take stock of our successes and failures we can ‘analyze’ them to determine why certain things were successful and why some simply failed. Failures and successes are always an opportunity to reflect why something worked/did not work.

Self-reflection is great exercise for anyone who is in a leadership role, managerial position or simply beginning their career path. It allows one to assess their successes, failures, challenges on a personal and professional level.

When one does not take time for self-reflection you are essentially stating that you have no challenges; have no need for development and growth. This hurts you and your professional development. Self-reflection is how one grows and moves to the next level. A few benefits of self-reflection:

1. Emotional Intelligence
Self-reflection means you are looking inwards.  It helps build two components to emotional intelligence: self-awareness and self-regulation. Self-awareness provides the ability to understand your emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals, and recognize their impact on others. Self-regulation is the ability to control or redirect your disruptive emotions and impulses and adapt to changing circumstances. Building these emotional intelligence components will improve your leadership and relationship skills.

2. Integrity
Understanding your core values will help to strengthen one’s leadership integrity and lead to better decisions.  During stressful and difficult times our integrity is often tested.  Taking time to review key decisions and actions in the recent past and grading them against your core values is a good discipline for everyone especially someone in a leadership role. Consistency will solidify your values and make the decision making process easier. Integrity will not only produce better quality from you, but at the same time it will increase your expectations of others and encourage them to perform to the best of their ability.

3. Confidence
Confidence is crucial for professional growth and it definitely can help in our personal life. It helps in your ability to communicate effectively, making decisions and being influential. The more you self-reflect your strengths and how you can improve and build upon them, the more confident you will be as an individual and a leader.

When you do self-reflect keep in mind to be brutally honest and to accept that we do not always have the answers and have to reach out to others for assistance to build upon existing strengths and working on weaknesses.

Self-reflection is all about you and there is no right or wrong!

6 Fabulous Tips For Remaining Productive On Business Travel

Business travel is an essential part of life and yes, it can be exhausting. Last year I had thirteen business trips – conducting sales calls and attending trade shows. Then there is the choice of keeping up with the workload while on the road, or tackling it when returning to the office. Guess which option I choose – yep! I choose to keep up with the workload while traveling. It was one of my most exhausting years ever! However, I was able to stay on top of everything and not miss a beat!

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