cedarjet
Topic Author
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Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 1:47 pm

I am meeting with a senior executive from a major airline in the Middle East (one of the oldest ones, not a new Gulf carrier). Although the meeting is mostly a social, I have been told he is interested in dreaming up a gift for First and Business class passengers.

For instance - KLM's famous Delft "blue houses" are the best known* gifts airlines give to their premium customers. I also have a lovely mid-90s alarm clock from MEA that still keeps perfect time (and the flight I was given on was operated by a 707, what a great day), for instance.

I wanted to get all of a.net on the case with this one. What is the best airline or corporate gift you've ever received or heard of, and what do you think would be the most useful and reusable gift you could receive while travelling?

I will cheerfully share the credit with a.net** when I have the conversation with the executive, and thanks for your input.

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KLM#KLM_Delft_Blue_houses
** this will help next time the thread about, "Do airline execs read a.net?"
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
 
bennett123
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:12 pm

Middle East is a big place.

Some clue about who the carrier is/ where based would help.

Would not do to suggest anything alcoholic to Saudi.
 
jetfuel
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:41 pm

High quality pens are a very useful and traditional but effective gift
Where's the passion gone out of the airline industry? The smell of jetfuel and the romance of taking a flight....
 
AeroWesty
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:47 pm

If it's the airline I'm thinking it is, I would think a nice small round serving tray, with falcon wings incorporated into the design motif for the edging would be nice. It could be used in someone's office to serve dates with coffee, or used at home to keep wallet/keys on, etc.

Whatever they choose it should multi-task and appeal to both males and females.

Didn't Asiana give out Versace tea cups at one time?
International Homo of Mystery
 
Eagleboy
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:06 pm

The 'quality pen' idea is universal and people will also find a way to use them.

Another could be a small key fob with the airline logo on it.
 
blueflyer
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:24 pm

Not a key fob, I've got 20 for every single key I own.

I'm assuming it is to be handed over onboard, so it needs to be easy to tuck away in a carry-on bag.

I like the quality pen idea, but only if it truly is high end. Nothing ruins an airline's image faster than a "quality" pen running the ink down the chest pocket of its new owner.

How about a leather wallet with the airline's logo? Obviously, something else would have to be thought of for female passengers (sorry, drawing a blank). Yes, everyone's got one, but who couldn't use a new one anyway? Some busy travelers have more than one (personal/business) switching to/fro a corporate trip.

Another idea, given there are many smokers in the Middle East still, is a gold case to carry one's cigarettes.
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NYCAAer
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:36 pm

When I started with AA in the late '80s, we used to give the international first class passengers a little pewter eagle statuette. Then we switched to a box of chocolates in a silver box with the big blue scissor eagle logo on top. After a couple years, the chocolates were upgraded to a smaller box of Godiva. Then in the mid-90s, I think, we eliminated the first class gift.

I remember Delta used to give its international first class passengers an order form from Tiffany's, and once the passenger got home they would mail it in and receive the gift of their choice from the items offered on the form. I think there was a choice of four items. This being when DL still had first class, of course. Very impressive!

Don't know if it counts as a gift, but this fall, you may get to keep your pajamas which will be offered in AA's first class on all international 777 flights. Tests are underway now to gauge passenger reaction and see if it's an amenity passengers would like.
 
keesje
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:38 pm

Something 80% of the passengers can give to their wife / girlfriend / partner at home & is appreciated. Exclusive soap, exclusive to eat (chocolate always work). Something that has a good feel and touch, is recognizable and can be collected too (I have a few streets of blue houses (in the kitchen   ).
"Never mistake motion for action." Ernest Hemingway
 
EddieDude
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:44 pm

A silver and leather keychain with flash drive???
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imag
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:47 pm

A high quality leather travel folder would do nicely in my opinion. Either totally bespoke, or from a well known ("local" maybe) brand with a customised cover or something. You could even have different patterns on the cover so they could become "collectable" - ie get yourself a full set. But then I usually sit in the back of the plane, so don't know if the front are into that.

A small bottle of signature scent made by one of the Middle East fragrance houses (eg Amouage from Oman). Either a collection of a couple of existing scents, or have some customised and you can even have mens or ladies or unisex. I think you'd need to use an exisiting brand, say "British Airways by Amouage" or "Amouage by Saudi Arabian", it just adds a bit more elligance to it I think. And it could become a desirable ie you can only get it if you fly with this airline. Just make sure it's less than 100ml...

The decent pen is a great idea as well, but I think it would need to be well presented as well.
 
qf002
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:48 pm

A nice bottle of wine is the best way to go IMO. It's pretty universal, unoffensive and can be taken home and shared.

Best gift we ever got from QF was a set of salt and pepper grinders though! Don't know why but I think they were sucking up to a member of my family who controls his company's travel account so sent this beautiful leather box with these big long grinders at Christmas one year. We use them all the time!!
 
Quokka
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:49 pm

Quoting keesje (Reply 7):
Something 80% of the passengers can give to their wife / girlfriend / partner at home & is appreciated. Exclusive soap, exclusive to eat (chocolate always work).

Depending on where the unnamed airline flies to quarantine could be a problem with foodstuffs, soaps, etc. No point giving passengers something that they will have to leave on the aircraft.

Which brings up another point: it would have to be portable, permissible through customs/ security, appeal to a wide audience, be attractive or of some use other than chucking into a drawer.

I like the idea of a quality, refillable pen. I am not talking about a cheap ballpoint that you throw away because it is impossible to get refills. But a decent, good looking and long lasting pen. Otherwise an Omega watch will do. 
 
exFATboy
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:55 pm

How about a nice business card holder - either metal or high-end leather.
 
squared
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:59 pm

Quoting qf002 (Reply 10):
A nice bottle of wine is the best way to go IMO. It's pretty universal, unoffensive and can be taken home and shared.

Given that this is for a Middle East airline, where some (if not a significant proportion) of the clientele may be observant Muslims, offering a nice bottle of wine is probably a bad idea...

I like the pen idea, especially if it is presented in a nice wood box. However, any branding on the pen/box should be fairly subtle.
 
davidlc3
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:03 pm

At Legend we gave high end, sculpted chocolates. For flights to NY they were in the shape of the Statue ofnLiberty and flights to Dallas in the shape of a cowboy boot or hat...
 
GolfBravoRomeo
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:28 pm

F and J travelers are likely frequent travelers. Something where a bit of variation can be introduced would be good. Like the blue houses. Didn't LH used to give out music CD's? If so, I don't have them anymore, I do still have several Concorde pens.
 
usair330
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:33 pm

How about a model airplane clock that shows time on the fuselage by holograph. Than the landing gear and flaps go up after you set your alarm than go down when the alarm goes off.  (Your allowed to dream aren't you)
 
777jaah
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:42 pm

Quoting squared (Reply 13):
However, any branding on the pen/box should be fairly subtle.

I bet a nice Montblanc pen can to a nice job. I would be more than thirilled to get one of those.

Doesn't LH gives some cutlery to F pax??
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CXfirst
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:45 pm

Quoting qf002 (Reply 10):
A nice bottle of wine is the best way to go IMO. It's pretty universal, unoffensive and can be taken home and shared.

Problem with that, is that a bottle of wine goes into many duty free quotas, which many passengers would want to use with their choice of wine.

Secondly, I don't know if alcohol is the best option for an arab airline, especially when a high number of passengers would be muslim.

-CXfirst
 
DLPMMM
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:48 pm

Quoting NYCAAer (Reply 6):
Don't know if it counts as a gift, but this fall, you may get to keep your pajamas which will be offered in AA's first class on all international 777 flights. Tests are underway now to gauge passenger reaction and see if it's an amenity passengers would like.

Most international airlines (other than USA) already have these for F class pax. I have them from LH, SQ, QF, CX, JL, BA...AA (and UA) are way behind in this amenity. (DL and US don't have longhaul F).

Quoting imag (Reply 9):
A high quality leather travel folder would do nicely in my opinion. Either totally bespoke, or from a well known ("local" maybe) brand with a customised cover or something. You could even have different patterns on the cover so they could become "collectable" - ie get yourself a full set. But then I usually sit in the back of the plane, so don't know if the front are into that.

I got a nice black leather travel wallet from SQ years ago in J class. I used it for over a decade until it finally wore out. I thought of SQ everytime I pulled it out. The watch from SQ was not so useful.

Quoting imag (Reply 9):
A small bottle of signature scent made by one of the Middle East fragrance houses (eg Amouage from Oman). Either a collection of a couple of existing scents, or have some customised and you can even have mens or ladies or unisex. I think you'd need to use an exisiting brand, say "British Airways by Amouage" or "Amouage by Saudi Arabian", it just adds a bit more elligance to it I think. And it could become a desirable ie you can only get it if you fly with this airline. Just make sure it's less than 100ml...

I got a bottle of Salvatore Ferrigamo mens cologne from SQ once as well...used it up and bought more later.

Quoting qf002 (Reply 10):
A nice bottle of wine is the best way to go IMO. It's pretty universal, unoffensive and can be taken home and shared.

Very offensive in the ME, possible illegal contraband in many destinations.
 
keesje
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:49 pm

It has to be unique too to be recognizable. What typical Gulf / Quality / Universal ?
"Never mistake motion for action." Ernest Hemingway
 
vegas005
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:58 pm

Give an HP TouchPad, the way they are selling you can probably get them really cheap.
 
aivisavia
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 5:21 pm

A pen, pencil, paper book and a wallet and people will be happy!
 
cedarjet
Topic Author
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:32 pm

Thanks for the replies so far. Sorry I can't tell you the airline, I want to, but I can't. I know it's a recurring theme on these boards, about how we wonder if CEOs / Travolta read them, well I don't know but you'd be surprised how news travels. I wrote an article for Airways magazine about Aria (Iran)'s shortlived Il-62 operation and the accident in Mashhad, and received emails (of thanks) from Aria HQ in southern Iran, and from the family of one of the dead pilots in Kazakhstan. So if Airways is read in Qeshm and Almaty, I'm sure a.net is read in the executive suite of the airline in this thread. (I will say this - booze is a no-no!)

But that isn't the point of the thread. What do you always forget to pack on a trip? What's the best corporate gift you've ever had or heard of? The pen is a clear winner so far, but I bet we can be more creative! Come on a.net...!
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
 
LAXintl
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:38 pm

Don't waste your money (or the airlines in this case).

I cant think of a single gift I have acquired from an airline in several decades of travel that really meant much to me or got me excited, let alone I still have.
Probably the most practical was a small leather business card holder where for a while I held all my travel related membership cards in my brief case.
A pen could be nice, however if you are going to do something with class, their cost can be quite high.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
tmcn
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:39 pm

The good thing about KLM's blue houses is that one can collect them, so frequent flyers will not always end up with the same gift. Being a frequent traveller to/from the Middle East, and knowing local crafts, I would suggest the airline we're speaking off provides its F/J passengers with a small wooden cube (2"x2"x2"), themed after a city that the airline flies to.

Such allows for a series of cubes to be collected, and for new cubes added when the airline adds new cities to its schedule. Each side of the cube could hold a thin copper plate engraved with a typical sight of the said city, a well-known inhabitant,... The cube could even be a box with one side being a lid.
 
retrolivery
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:21 pm

I remember I once flew Austrian Grand Class VIE-IAD, and among other options we were offered a hardbound OS branded cookbook (not long, perhaps 20-30 pages at most) featuring recipes from their inflight menu. I thought this was a clever and rather useful gift.
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bwaflyer
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:31 pm

A high quality leather or aluminium bag tag with the airline logo embossed on one side?
 
fbgdavidson
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:09 am

Whilst the idea is good the practicalities are quite limiting in reality.

You've got to give something worthy of being given away in an international F cabin, so it has to be top of the line in its category. But then the cost of providing such a top of the line gift to each passenger would be prohibitively expensive, even with the subsidy from the manufacturer or provider (on the basis it's advertising/product placement) it would likely cost a fair amount. That's unless it's something with such a high profit margin that you still give something expensive away without it costing an arm and a leg.

As a lot of F passengers are regular travelers I think it needs to be something that is useable or can be varied easily. What good is being given a nice baggage tag every few weeks?

Then you've got to tackle things like not offending certain demographics (alcohol being covered already), security concerns, would it have to be thrown away if the passenger is connecting, etc.

Personally I'd rather have the money spent on a nice amenity kit with quality products. The washbag is something that can be re-used and the contents useful for the traveler. From the right airline they also make a nice gift and with the very high profit margins on cosmetics companies can afford to dole out decent sized samples to the demographic they hope to attract. Plus with the right contents a few less things to pack  BA had the right idea with the old box Anya Hindmarch bags in the early 2000s.

[Edited 2011-08-08 21:10:43]
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
BMI727
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:28 am

A few ideas that crossed my mind:
Embroidered handkerchief
Cuff links (antiquated, but they are still sold so probably still worn by some people)
Tie pin
Tie (branded would be too gaudy, but perhaps in the airline's colors. Also, there would need to be something for the ladies)
A desk clock, or if you want to be a bit different get one with the analog weather station alongside.
A wireless mouse, but that may have technical issues with computers from around the world.
Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
 
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readytotaxi
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:22 pm

How about this little gem offered to JAL First passengers back in the late 80's.

JAL


Folds up into an oyster shape,soft red leather.
you don't get a second chance to make a first impression!
 
Speedbird741
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:25 pm

I would suggest offering a traditional dallah. Of course, it would have to be of a smaller size but functional nonetheless. Perhaps, if a dallah is a dash too much, a set of Arabic coffee cups with a selection of dates would be charming. Either of these could be offered along with a booklet containing Arabic coffee recipes and history.

Quoting jetfuel (Reply 2):
High quality pens are a very useful and traditional but effective gift

Classy and effective indeed.

Quoting fbgdavidson (Reply 28):
BA had the right idea with the old box Anya Hindmarch bags in the early 2000s.

The current Anya Hindmarch ones are very nice as well. They had me running to a D. R. Harris store the next time I was in London.

Speedbird741
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blink182
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RE: Gifts For First (and J) Class Passengers

Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:24 am

The leather bound/jewelry ideas are great, but in the case of a FF, who needs four new wallets in the course of a single month?

Some possible ideas that I can think of that can be consistently refreshed and suitable to many tastes--just be sure to give me 50% of profits once my ideas are implemented 

--A book--
Rotate weekly, biweekly, or monthly. Could simply be new releases that have recieved a lot of positive reviews, or relevant to business and leisure travelers eg. the biography of a highly regarded business CEO, company, or philosophy, perhaps a book to promote a new destination, an inspirational book, or a series of books over two or three months to promote a region,theme, or author, maybe a recent pulitzer prize winner. A lot of flexibility. In service classes where privacy is ever more the norm, books can bring people together and be passed on.

--Music downloads of select/featured playlists and a variety of genres.
Like books, a lot of flexibility, and a lot of options.

--Spa/restaurant of destination gift certificates.
Have a featured restaurant, bar, shop, and/or spa for the destination served. Give the passenger a certificate/voucher to use at one of the four places, passenger's choice, complements of the airline.

--Monthly Cookbooks.
Like mentioned for OS earlier in the thread, keep refreshing cookbooks, include all meals plus drinks(both alcoholic and non alcoholic). Feature popular recipes from destinations served or airline food. I know many airlines have signature cocktails, and those could be included.

I realize these aren't materially as nice as leather goods and what not, but leather goods and jewelry,in this instance, can unfortunately last for decades or more. Who really needs four wallets or five of the same pairs of cufflinks(and won't remember the company who gave them)? The ideas I mentioned can be updated regularly. The gift certificates have some shelf life, but not decades(and won't cost the airline anything until they are used) and the books can always be brought back years later without feeling used or discarded.
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