CD Mailer Helps NC Resort Shine

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A North Carolina coastal resort area saw a 16 percent response rate last summer from a multimedia campaign using a mini-CD mailer. The effort proved so successful that another mailing went to a similar group of prospects this spring.

Bald Head Island Ltd., the resort and residential community's development and operations company, also saw a 300 percent increase in reservation inquiries compared with the three months prior to the first CD mailing. The 16 percent response rate came from recipients who booked reservations via the telephone.

Ten thousand copies of the 2003 Armchair Guides were mailed in 3-by-5 envelopes and contained unique marketing messages to prospects, corporate meeting planners, confirmed visitors and travel agents.

The CD included a digital conversion of Bald Head's 64-page printed catalog featuring rental properties, island attractions and property management recruitment information. The CD, which featured two videos as well as photography of 125 homes, contained 300 click-through links to custom information on the island's Web site, virtual tours, maps and real-time reservations.

"The CD captures the Bald Head Island image and enables us to showcase our island community in dynamic fashion," said Trisha Howarth, hospitality sales and marketing director at Bald Head Island. "It also allows us to get more information to prospective visitors in a convenient package, which enables the recipient to view information most pertinent to them."

What Howarth found surprising was the CD's staying power.

"We sent a second CD since the first one was sent out, and the first CD is still getting traffic," she said.

The CD included technology that lets Bald Head executives track movement within it, allowing them to develop a better understanding of potential visitors as well as the program's effectiveness. Officials also can track the number of unique visitors, the percentage of distributed CDs viewed, the average views per unique user and the average number of click-throughs per unique view.

"We like to consider the discs virtual vacation teasers, yet that downplays their strategic value," Howarth said. "Critical to the success of our campaign has been the ability to track those who access the discs and analyze the information that interests them."

Bald Head Island is 30 miles south of Wilmington, NC.

"The purpose of this CD was to market rental properties, so what Bald Head wanted to know was which rental properties were getting the most bang for this buck and which rental properties are not getting the exposure from this particular medium," said Peter Nyberg, president of 21 CD Inc., Durham, NC, the digital marketing services company that created the campaign. "They can then use that feedback to do either e-mail campaigns, Web site promotions, postcard promotions [or] some other campaign that features these properties that are not getting the exposure."

The CD mailer also reduced Bald Head's marketing costs. Postage was 50 percent less than the cost to mail print catalogs. New inquiries because of direct mail rose to 30 percent of overall inquiries.

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