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Kare Anderson Headshot

Give Customers Holiday Experiences They Can Share

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When you step inside the historic Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco you are swept into a sumptuous holiday scene that includes a towering Christmas tree and a two-story-high Victorian gingerbread house. Yet sadly, like most other businesses that want to delight and engage people at Christmas, they are missing some big opportunities.

What if you could extend the holiday moments you offer farther into the lives of your customers? What if you could inspire them to share their cheery experience with others? With the right partners and methods you can. For example, what if the Fairmont partnered with an equally renowned local baker to make pre-wrapped, co-branded miniature "Fairmont Gingerbread Houses" and/or cookies collections for elves to sell at a side table near the giant Gingerbread House in the lobby?

Buyers could opt to have them mailed as gifts or walk out with them. Plus the baker could also sell the gingerbread houses to her retail outlets, enclosed in a box with a photo on top of the Fairmont's lushly decorated lobby, featuring the house. Partners get to use their best talents and resources to gain a festive, warmed-up introduction to each other's customers. Guests who stay five days or more at the hotel could get a free Gingerbread House, thus introducing the baker's delicious artistry to the hotel's most lucrative customers. And the hotel can give their most important guests a unique lagniappe that costs them nothing.

Let's further deepen the customer experience, to strengthen their sense of affiliation to you and your partner's companies -- and their desire to share their memory with others. Starting today, hotel guests can create customized eCards to send to friends and loved ones before they leave the hotel, thanks to a new partnership between a small start-up, KlabLab with a "Stitch" app, and venerable card maker Hallmark. They can use their iPhone to take photos of each other, perhaps by the Christmas tree, Gingerbread House or other holiday scene in the hotel.

Then they can choose a card image, font and message from Hallmark's collection; add music from the iTunes Library; then customize their chosen message and immediately send their personalized eCard, keeping copies for themselves. Since each eCard has a Stitch+Hallmark watermark on it, those sharing their memories via personal eCards will also be sharing the news that anyone can can use this method to make personalized eCards. Thus the partnership creates a virtuous circle that naturally scales visibility. Hint: Design your partnership method to create one.

Lessons:

Partner with companies to co-create a more memorable experience that enables you and your partners to:

• Stand out from your competition

• Co-brand an experience and objects-as-gifts that customers can enjoy with others, in the moment and later on

• Give them a reason to come back next year and/or other times because you regularly offer other special experiences, with related gifts they can buy

Hint: Unlike these partners, be explicit in showing and/or describing the benefits of the partnership to the people you seek to serve.

What other reputable businesses could you quickly forge a holiday partnership with to:

• Reach and serve more people in your mutual market?

• Add more excitement and/or convenience to your customers' experience?

• Spur more spending and sharing by co-creating a holiday-themed, bundled package of products and/or services from you and your partner, that all partners can sell this season?

For example Southwest Airlines and Nintendo have just partnered up to offer gaming lounges in some of the nation's busiest airports through December 22nd. And last Christmas upscale Neiman Marcus "put together a limited collection from 24 American designers" in partnership with value-centric Target so both could experiment with how to reach "a broader range of customers."

Hint: Partner up with one or more reputable companies that serve the same kind of customers as you as co-create shareable experiences that will spread the word about your businesses.
Share success is often sweeter, especially when it can spread the holiday spirit.