Last week, Saks Fifth Avenue Vice President of Vendor and Store Marketing and Public Relations Kathleen Ruiz participated in a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) discussion on international travel and tourism. The day-long seminar, “Promoting Travel while Protecting National Security,” was sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association.
Ruiz discussed how Saks is taking advantage of the National Travel and Tourism Strategy to encourage more international shoppers into their domestic stores, and how retailers could better service and engage these burgeoning crowds of foreign consumers. Saks is in the process on implementing a one-year strategy dedicated to these customers.
“We want the foreign shopper to feel at home,” Ruiz said.
Saks’ strategy includes unique access to special events and programs, complimentary personal shopping, exclusive deals and promotions and customizable concierge services. The retailer is also recruiting multilingual associates and incorporating tablets into the store setting so foreign shoppers can easily find products, navigate the aisles and locate translators. Through these different services and coordinated advertising, marketing and research, Saks hopes to become the “destination for international shoppers.”
Since the economic recession in 2008 and 2009, Saks has witnessed a sustained growth in international shoppers throughout its 45 domestic stores. Shoppers from as far away as China and Brazil and as close as Canada are coming to visit and shop at their luxury, specialty retail stores in New York, Boston, Las Vegas and San Francisco.
Legislation currently before Congress, the “Jobs Originated through Launching Travel Act of 2012” (JOLT Act) (H.R. 5741 and S. 3199) would provide an additional boost to international travel and tourism by making key changes to the Visa Waiver Program as well as setting visa processing goals for the Department of State.
The retail industry is strongly supporting these bills and encouraging Congress to enact them quickly.