'Big Kahuna' Contest Draws Leads for Million-Dollar Hawaiian Properties

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An online contest by property developers Centex Homes and the Playground division of IntraWest targeting sales representatives and brokers has yielded 200 leads for a beachfront condominium complex on Hawaii's Kona island.

The leads are high net-worth individuals, mostly from California, who have shown interest in the MarQuis Resort Homes on Kona's Kohala Coast. The estimated 90 homes will cost $1 million to $3 million, including amenities such as ocean views and round-the-clock concierge service.

"What we've learned is that people are not going to sales offices as much as they used to in the past," said Roman Bodnarchuk, chairman/CEO of N5R.com, the Toronto agency on the account. "They're doing all their research on the Web, prequalifying which homes they want, so when they actually show up at the sales process, they've pretty much decided that's what they want to buy."

According to the National Association of Realtors, 41 percent of all homebuyers used the Internet as a search and research tool. Another study by Pew Internet & American Life said 8 million U.S. residents who found new homes in the past two years cited the Internet as important in helping them make the transition.

Cognizant of that trend, N5R devised the Big Kahuna Getaway Contest. It invites hundreds of sales reps employed by Dallas-based Centex and Playground, whose IntraWest parent is based in Vancouver, BC, as well as Hawaii brokers to enter the contest on bigkahunagetaway.com.

Participants are asked to enter their contact information and a client's details on the site. In return they get a free hula doll for their desk. Each extra client contact information is yet another entry in the contest. Participants earn an extra 10 points for every broker referred to the site.

The more points earned, the better the chance to win the drawing for the grand prize of $10,000 and a six-day getaway for two at any IntraWest Waikoloa resort on Hawaii's Big Island. Also, the broker who provides the most contact names automatically wins the resort getaway prize as well.

Every month throughout the contest, prizes such as a Dell notebook computer or a Sony PlayStation/DVD player will be awarded to two randomly drawn contestants.

Contest standings are updated through its Nov. 15 ending.

"Essentially it's a way for them to give us some of their leads," Bodnarchuk said. "We would still pay them their full commission, but we would do all the marketing for them to the end user."

Once the referrals are in, Centex and Playground send an e-mail to the prospects, pitching them and also asking them to opt in at the same time. N5R monitors the recipient's movements via the e-mail, tracking the time spent on bigkahunagetaway.com and in which areas of the site.

Once the behavior is analyzed, brochures are sent based on the digital profiles. The respective Centex and Playground sales reps as well as the participating brokers are fed the information, too, in real time. They can then call their prospects and tailor their presentation accordingly.

Direct mail in the form of postcards will follow the online efforts.

Since the contest began July 15, the developers claim a 32 percent response on leads that were contacted by e-mail for the property.

"It is difficult to reach this type of buyer," Bodnarchuk said. "Most of the buyers are in the mainland, coming from California. Running full-page ads in the Los Angeles Times is not really the most cost-effective way to do that, even though traditionally that's how it's been done.

"They'd get a very, very small return on that," he said. "They'd get a couple of leads they'd try to follow up."

In this case, shaking the sales reps and brokers for their rolodexes worked for Centex and Playground, especially to meet the challenge of how to build momentum and hence qualified leads quickly for a new project in Hawaii without incurring traditional marketing costs

"The properties will start at $1 million, so to get 200 qualified leads in typical real estate marketing would cost $10,000 per lead," Bodnarchuk said. "These leads are extraordinarily valuable. We've got it down between $10 and $20 cost per lead.

"So, it's a massive difference between traditional real estate marketing and online," he said. "It's not 10 percent cheaper, it's like 1 percent of what it would traditionally cost."


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