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"These look great. Where are the rest of them?"

The Problem:

The luggage tags were just what the hotel client wanted. Expertly decorated, they were personalized with the names of executives who were to attend a special summit the hospitality company was hosting for high-value customers.

 There was just one problem with the tags: There were not enough of them.

 The client intended to send each recipient two luggage tags as part of a pre-event mailer, explains Lauren Stewart, business development manager at Bob Lilly Professional Promotions (asi/254138). But Stewart had sourced only one tag per person; she was about 1,000 short. "They said, 'These look great, but where are the rest of them?'" she recalls.

 There were only a couple days before the mailer was scheduled to go out. What could be done?

The Solution:

After discovering the dilemma, Stewart swept into action. Her first order of business was to communicate clearly and openly with the client, assuring them that she was on the case and a solution was being engineered. She also quickly contacted the luggage tags supplier – Norwood by BIC Graphic (asi/74400) – to have the additional 1,000 personalized tags produced.

 While the timeframe was short, Norwood turned the order before the deadline. Despite the scare, all 2,000 tags shipped together and on time. Stewart says clear and frequent communication played an important part in bringing the order to fruition and keeping stakeholders informed during the process. "There were late-night phone calls and text messages," she says, noting the order complications came with a distinct upside. "In the end, it made my relationship with the client stronger. My partnership with Norwood became stronger too."

The Lessons:

In a word: Recap. To ensure accuracy, Stewart had always made it a practice to go over orders with clients before placing POs with suppliers. But after the luggage tags deal, these recaps became even more thorough and detailed. "I'm a huge fan of the recap," Stewart says. "We closely go over everything so there is no confusion." Such a recap, she believes, would have led her to identify that the hotel wanted two tags per recipient.

 Additionally, the tags experience accentuated the importance of good communication with clients and suppliers – and how important it is to establish bonds with buyers. "We had a good relationship with the client prior to this so they were calm because they knew we were working fast to get everything done right for them," says Stewart.