Posts Tagged ‘travel’

May
25
2011

Oprah Winfrey loves to give. She graciously signed off today after 25 years of daytime television and nearly a decade of her audience-swooning Favorite Things. The blog Jezebel estimates Oprah gave $23,809,050 worth of products since 2002. Not every gift stood the test of time — like Dell’s Pocket DJ MP3 player and J.Lo’s velour sweatsuit — but most have. Let Oprah be your guide for your next gift.

Automotive

Beauty and Body Care

Beverages

Books and Magazines

Charitable Gifts

Clothing and Accessories

Electronics

Food Favorites

Games

Home and Office Furnishings

Jewelry

Kitchen and Appliances

Movies and Television

Music

Travel


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Jul
02
2009

Bring hotel luxury to your home. Several major hotels sell their linens, bath robes, shower heads and even the beds online, including Westin. Six years ago, my wife and I stayed at Pittsburgh’s Westin Hotel, home of the Heavenly Bed and the Heavenly Shower. This bed envelops you in sumptuous white cotton comfort: a Simmons pillowtop mattress, five goose-down pillows, three sheets, down blanket, comforter and duvet. The shower features two heads and offers a curved shower curtain rod, giving six more inches of elbow room. I made sure our home bathroom remodel included a similar curved shower rod. (We chose an oil-rubbed bronze version from Inspirations by Moen instead of the Westin brand).

Browse these web sites for hotel comfort gifts for home. High-end linens make a fine second anniversary gift. (Cotton is the traditional anniversary gift.)


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Jul
01
2009

Know someone who’s traveling this summer? While you can’t give them a passport, you can give the next best thing: a Moleskine travel notebook. Moleskine (pronounced mole-ah-SKEEN-ah) makes premium notebooks featuring a black hardcover, thread-bound spine, ribbon bookmark and elastic band to keep the book closed. Beginning in 2006, Moleskine offered pocket-sized city notebook editions, including city and transit maps, plus an index of streets for many popular travel destinations.

I keep a Moleskine Large Sketchbook for drawing up and scribbling down my ideas. I like the notebook’s sturdy feel in my hands with its durable cover and thick cream-colored pages. I’d love even it more as a Paris journal, sketching from a bistro overlooking the Seine.


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Jun
25
2009

MSN Money has released its 2009 Customer Service Hall of Fame this month. I’ve listed the top ten below with excerpts from the retailer profiles. Try one of these service standouts for your next gift purchase.

#10. Southwest Airlines
“Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines attributes its customer-service success to personality… and free peanuts.” Consider a Southwest gift card.

#9. Costco
“The company’s prices have also won Costco fans. Costco stocks its stores with bulk items that consumers can buy at discounts. It keeps its margins low in order to keep prices down and makes up the difference in sales volume.” Shop at Costco.com.

#8. Apple
“If they can’t fix it, and it’s new enough, they’ll often hand you a replacement device free, on the spot.” Visit the Apple Store.

#7. Whole Foods Market
“[Whole Foods] has created a loyal following by committing to sell high-quality food that’s free of many additives and antibiotics that concern health-conscious customers.” Order a Whole Foods gift card.

#6. Publix Super Market
“[Spokeswoman Maria] Brous also attributes Publix’s success to discount programs intended to help struggling families afford the basics.” Purchase a Publix gift card.

#5. Nordstrom Department Store
“The company gives many of its salespeople the latitude to deal with customer complaints without running them up the management chain.” Shop at Nordstrom.com.

#4. Amazon.com
“Amazon considers its free shipping a form of advertising. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Amazon said it had saved customers more than $800 million in shipping costs in 2008.” Shop at Amazon.com.

#3. NetFlix
“Netflix has 58 distribution centers across the country, enabling 97% of members to receive new DVDs the day after Netflix gets their returns, says Steve Swasey, the company’s director of corporate communications. The company ships more than 2.2 million DVDs each day to a network of 10.3 million subscribers, he says.” Give a NetFlix gift subscription.

#2. Trader Joe’s
“Trader Joe’s owes its customer ratings to its cheese, chocolate cake… and the rest of its product selection, says satisfied shopper Lisa Hsu.” See TraderJoes.com for the closest grocery store location. TJ’s does not sell its products (not even their gift cards) online.

#1. USAA
“USAA certainly isn’t your average insurance company or financial institution. Its 7 million members are all in the military, former servicemen or family members of military personnel. Members are stakeholders. They pay premiums and are paid back a portion of the insurer’s profits each year.” If you qualify for USAA services, visit USAA.com to learn more about buying a U.S. savings bond as a kid’s gift. Albeit practical, savings bonds help children understand the power of growing interest.

***

MSN Money based its top ten on a survey of 3,015 respondents, rating the customer service of 145 companies in 15 industries. Zogby International conducted the survey and also asked which aspect of service was most important. The results (rounded up) are as follows:

  • Knowledgeable staff – 44%
  • Friendly staff – 18%
  • Readily available staff – 15%
  • Flexible policies for return/exchange of merchandise – 9%
  • Service after the sale – 9%
  • None — product is all that matters – 1%
  • Not sure – 1%
  • Other – %1

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Jun
24
2009

Yesterday I posted to Twitter about shipping my old iPhone to gadget reseller Gazelle. Within 12 minutes, the folks at Gazelle noticed my tweet message, followed my Twitter feed and sent a nice reply.

That’s a great customer follow-up use of social media. Gazelle’s prompt response made me think about other sites I frequent. How many of my favorite retailers are using Twitter? And when did they start posting tweets? I compiled the table below using Twitter’s “Find People” search and MyTweet16, which lists a Twitter user’s first 16 tweets.

Retailers Using Twitter

Retailer Web Site Twitter Use
Amazon.com
#1 online retailer in the U.S.
@amazon
since Feb. 14, 2009
Barnes & Noble
Bookseller
@BNBuzz
since Apr. 22, 2009
Best Buy
Consumer electronics
@BestBuy
since Jan. 28, 2009
Borders
Bookseller
@BordersMedia
since Feb. 24, 2009
CafePress
Online retailer of custom goods
@cafepress
since Apr. 24, 2008
Cooking.com
Online retailer for cooks and chefs
@CookingCom
since June 19, 2009
Crate & Barrel
Housewares, furniture and decor
@crateandbarrel
since Apr. 25, 2008
Dean & DeLuca
Fine food, wine and kitchenware
@DeanandDeluca
since Mar. 23, 2009
Dormbuys.com
Essentials for college dorms
@dormbuys
since July 28, 2008
Edible Arrangements
Fruit arranged like flowers for delivery
@DoFruit
since Oct. 24, 2008
Etsy
Handmade crafts
@Etsy
since Jan. 14, 2008
Gazelle
Buys used gadgets
@gazelle_com
since Sept. 19, 2008
Godiva Chocolatier
Premium chocolates
@GodivaChoc
since Feb. 6, 2009
JustGive.org
Choose from 1.5 million charities for gifts
@JustGiveOrg
since Jan. 16, 2009
Kiva.org
Microlending for needy entrepreneurs
@Kiva
since July 25, 2008
Kohls
Department store
@Kohls_Official
since Apr. 27, 2009
Lands’ End
Clothing retailer with iron-clad guarantee
@LandsEndChat
since Sept. 27, 2008
Levenger
Gifts for reading and writing
@Levenger
since Jan. 16, 2009
Nordstrom
Upscale department store
@nordstrom
since Sept. 5, 2008
Omaha Steaks
Premium meats and seafood
@OmahaSteaksHelp
since June 17, 2009
OneShare
Sells one share of stock as a framed gift
@oneshare
since Feb. 4, 2009
Overstock.com
Online retailer selling surplus goods
@Overstock
since Nov. 20, 2008
PajamaGram
Pajamas sent in a hat box
@PajamaGram
since May 14, 2009
ProFlowers
Floral delivery
@ProFlowers
since May 5, 2009
Starbucks
Largest coffeehouse chain in the world
@Starbucks
since Aug. 12, 2008
Sur La Table
Gourmet cooking utensils and appliances
@Sur_La_Table
since June 11, 2009
Teleflora
Floral delivery
@Teleflora
since Mar. 6, 2009
The Fruit Company
Fruit basket delivery
@TheFruitCo
since Apr. 29, 2009
ThinkGeek
Online retailer for nerd stuff
@thinkgeek
since Jan. 26, 2008
Ticketmaster
Concert, show and sports tickets
@Ticketmaster
since Apr. 14, 2009
Trader Joe’s
Great groceries and inexpensive wine
@traderjoes
since Aug. 28, 2008
Travelocity
Travel and lodging
@travelocity
since Feb. 10, 2009
ToysRUs
Toy retailer
@ToysRUs
since Nov. 15, 2008
Uncommon Goods
Unusual home accessories and gifts
@uncommon_goods
since Jan. 24, 2009
Urban Outfitters
Clothing and footwear retailer
@UrbanOutfitters
since July 21, 2008
Vera Bradley
Seller of brightly patterned bags
@verabradley
since June 4, 2008
Z Gallerie
Home decor, furniture and dinnerware
@zgallerie
since June 14, 2009
Zappos.com
CEO of the online shoe retailer
@zappos
since Mar. 8, 2008
Zazzle.com
Online retailer for custom merchandise
@zazzle
since Oct. 24, 2008

Of the 40 retailers above, grocery chain Trader Joe’s use of Twitter impressed me the most. Nearly all of Trader Joe’s posts are simply retweets of customer talking about TJ’s food and beverages on Twitter. (Jargon alert: Retweets repeat someone else’s message on Twitter — crediting the author — to help spread the message to others. Often abbreviated as RT, it’s word of mouth, Twitter-style.)

Finally, as I’m writing this post, Gazelle sent me another Twitter reply. This time, Gazelle thanked me for my tweet and offered me a 5% bump in value on my next Gazelle gadget trade-in.


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