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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Delivering the goods with a gift bag

Sherry Truhlar, with

You likely have a story about poor customer service. Most of us do.

But I’ve noticed that some companies creatively find ways to make their customers feel extra-special, even after they have purchased a product. These ideas leave a positive, lasting impression.

By way of example, here are two stories from my old stomping grounds of corporate marketing. Either could be adapted for a charity auction or other event to ensure your guests keep smiling after they’ve left.

Story #1
I bought a pair of shoes at a store called “Shoe Woo.” Once home, I pulled the shoebox out of the bag. A black message on the inside bottom of the white bag caught my eye: “You’ve been WOOed!”

I didn’t expect that at the bottom of the bag, and I couldn’t help but smile.

Story #2

While attending a sales conference, I heard a speaker share a similar experience. She had purchased a jacket from an outdoor apparel company.

The first time she wore the jacket, she put her hand inside the pocket and felt a small piece of paper. She assumed it was an inspection sticker. When she pulled it out to throw it away, she glanced at the paper and some words caught her eye: “You are a goddess.”

Whoa, a goddess!? Her day was instantly brightened.

Key point #1:  Ideas don’t need to add cost

Shoe Woo has to print bags anyway. The outdoor apparel company has to package those coats for shipping. Adding a message to the shopping bag or slipping a tag into a jacket pocket are minor tasks that leave major impressions.

Key point #2:  The element of surprise

Instead of giving guests your event gift bag in a predictable way at the end of the night, what if the contents of that gift bag were delivered in a different way?

If you are planning a meeting or conference where guests are staying at the same hotel, see if you can leave a gift bag in their room for them to find.

Gift bags are often handed to patrons as they leave the building during events like charity auctions. If guests must valet park, consider giving the valet the responsibility of leaving one gift bag in each car. What a nice surprise for your guests to find a gift in their car as they head home!

Although I’ve not seen this idea used at a benefit auction, I have been the recipient of the tactic. A few years ago when I was working in corporate marketing, I attended the opening of Fairmont’s Gold level in Washington, D.C.  At the end of the night, the valet brought me my car.

As I was driving away, I noticed a lovely wine opener with a bow sitting in my cup holder.

I was excited to get home and take a closer look. The experience of the evening lingered with me beyond the party.

Benefit auctioneer Sherry Truhlar’s stories and advice have been published in Town & Country, The Washington Post Magazine, Auctioneer, The Eleusis and The Virginia Auctioneer. Her ideas have been broadcast on television shows including E! Style and TLC. She inspires and teaches volunteers how to set new fund-raising records at auction galas. Enjoy her free Auction Item Guide, which lists the 100 best-selling items to sell at a benefit auction, at