By Lia Blanchard

Sending a gift to someone who isn’t at home can be pretty tricky, but a little forethought (and maybe a phone call or two) go a long way toward preventing disasters. Whether your intention is to surprise someone on vacation or to lift the spirits of someone who is ailing, timing is important, and getting it right can be stressful.

Delivering to a hotel room

Most hotels – particularly large hotels in popular destinations – have some procedure in place for receiving packages on behalf of their guests, and ensuring its delivery to the right place.

  1. Call the hotel well ahead of time and ask what their policy is regarding package delivery for guests. Ask for clear instructions on how to address the guests (by name? arrival date?) and which street address to use, and then follow these instructions closely.
  2. Next, when mailing your gift or ordering it online, use a delivery method that specifies the delivery date and requires a signature. If you’re at the Post Office, ask for Priority or Overnight Delivery and Signature Confirmation. If you’re using a private delivery company (UPS, FedEx, etc) or ordering the gift online, use the 2-day delivery option, with signature required. You may (or may not) pay a little more for this service, but the peace of mind gained is definitely worth it.

    Tip: Aim for a target date early in the guest’s stay, so if there is any delay, there is more time to recover from it.

Delivering to a medical facility

Getting a gift delivered to a medical facility, on the other hand, is very tricky. Patients are often transferred to another room, floor, or unit, or are discharged earlier than anticipated.

The best thing to do is to utilize the facility’s own gift shop and delivery service, if it’s available. If this option is not available, the most advisable thing to do is to have the package delivered to a trusted friend or family member that lives in the area, and ask them to hand-deliver your well-wishes.

When there’s a Problem

If for any reason your gift does not make it to its recipient, you should first be able to confirm delivery through whatever tracking method was provided at the time of purchase. With signature confirmation service, you should be able to see exactly which individual accepted the delivery and exactly when; your next step is to call the facility and ask them to track it down from there.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that a manufacturer has no control of your gift once it’s in the hands of the delivery service… and once the delivery service has handed the package to someone at the designated address, they have performed their service correctly. Proper addressing, early timing, and requiring signatures are crucial in helping to ensure that your thoughtful gift makes it through all the legs of its journey and into the arms of your recipient.