Is it best practice to offer a discount or get your regulars a gift?
From my experience in the hospitality/tourism industry, I see this pretty regularly at either the beginning or end of our high peak season. If you agree, what's an appropriate or reasonable gift/discount for your most valued and regular customers?
It's good business to show your appreciation for their business. Retaining a valued client is less expensive than acquiring a new client. Therefore, focusing on loyalty and referral programs is a good business expense.
Before considering the conventional gifts and plaques that are a one-time thing, consider what the client will value the most. Since my clients are business owners, I find creative ways to bring business their way. For example, if your client owns a restaurant, make it a point to introduce your other clients and co-workers to their restaurant. You get a 2 for 1, when you show appreciation to one set of valued clients by bringing your groups and clients to that other client's restaurant. Or provide gift certificates from one client business to other valued clients. Or setup warm introductions between complimentary clients so that they can do bigger business together. Be an opportunity agent for your clients' business. It will be an appreciation gift that will keeps on giving. When your clients succeed, you will succeed. When your clients make money, they can easily pay for your services.
Learn what your clients value the most - then find a way to go even a step above.
I personally do this very occasionally, it is hard to judge the value of your clients.
After all what makes them indispensable to begin with? Will your business suffer if the client went elsewhere? I try to gauge my clients, by seniority, and by what they might do for me down the line, for my bottom line. I have one client who has been with me from the start, so it is easy, he would appreciate what ever I chose, so i try to personalize the gift.. last year it was three nights in a hotel of his choice on South Beach. Where others get pen and pencil sets, or tickets to venues they would personally enjoy (Country Music festivals, tickets to our county fair). These types of gifts are the type that keep giving in memories and relatively inexpensive. As I said not very often.
In Higher education the practice was to focus more on entertainment than gifts. This said, there are two references I think will interest you. One focuses on best practices; the question you asked. The other is an interesting discussion of the ethics behind giving gifts. It also has the value of providing guidance on what your employees should and should not do and how to educate them.
What’s the Best Way to Give Gifts to Clients?
The Ethics of Gifts & Hospitality by the Institute of Business Ethics.
I suspect there are what is called usual and customary practices that are part of the hospitality/tourism industry. I don't know what they are. I do know it is increasingly common that tips just get added into the bill even before service is rendered. Have you ever taken a cruise?
- The Pragmatic Web Designer
It depends on the relationship with the client. But you could ask the clients themselves what they think is appropriate without letting them know it's for them.
It's best practice to let valued customers know they are valued throughout the relationship. A gift isn't necessarily needed nor expected. This is primarily do to restrictions company's place on the receiving value of a gift these days. Often, in North America that value cannot exceed $50.