Sales Just 'Ducky' After Tour Company Adds E-Mail

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Boston Duck Tours, which takes individuals and groups on tours of Boston via amphibious vehicles, more than doubled its revenue for marketing partners after starting an e-mail program.

The tourism company also increased its sales 15 percent last year, which executives attribute directly to starting e-mail campaigns in April 2004. Its e-mail database includes 9,500 people, segmented by Boston Duck's three main markets: corporate groups, schools and individuals.

Though the company had promoted its tours and partners -- including Hard Rock Cafe, Boston's Museum of Science and restaurant McCormick & Schmick's -- mainly via direct mail and trade shows, executives now say e-mail reaches their customers more efficiently.

E-mail promotions, sent quarterly, are easy for tour operators and other recipients to respond to, said Bob Schwartz, assistant director of marketing and sales at Boston Duck.

"We give people the links [in e-mails] to go right into the site []," he said.

The small tour company also looked to e-mail to stand out from large attractions, which were mailing colorful postcards to corporate meeting planners and tour operators.

"Everyone is trying to make their cards flashier," Schwartz said. "With the Disney Worlds and the Six Flags ... we felt we were getting lost in the mix."

The boost in revenue to its partners -- from $125,000 in 2003 to $358,000 in 2004 -- also came about after Boston Duck Tours upped package offerings to 20 and switched from direct mail to e-mail. Boston Duck Tours worked with e-mail marketing firm Constant Contact, Waltham, MA.

"Nowadays, with the way people are traveling, [offering packages] makes it much easier for them to make a decision," Schwartz said.

One e-mail partner promotion, sent in April 2005, was particularly successful because it focused on a new package with the Boston Red Sox and an existing "Sea Boston, Sea Food" package with McCormick & Schmick's, featuring a New England clambake. The e-mail noted that the Red Sox package, including a tour of Boston, a tour of Fenway Park and lunch in Fenway Park's Hall of Fame Club, was "perfect for corporate groups and out-of-town clients."

Boston Duck Tours raised more than $35,000 for the partners called out in the e-mail campaign. And, 1,500 of the 3,000 meeting planners and others who received the e-mail clicked through to the company's Web site.

"Everyone was still riding the whole Red Sox wave ... so their reputation helped out," Schwartz said.

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