Travelocity Takes E-Mail Inhouse to Boost Personalization

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Travel marketing portal Travelocity.com Inc. is bringing its e-mail marketing inhouse to try to offer greater personalization to members. While outsourcing its e-mail to various creative houses and using software from L-Soft, the company added Atlanta-based Socketware Inc.'s Accucast platform to develop, design, launch and track its campaigns.


Travelocity.com found that outsourcing its e-mail marketing was expensive and did not provide the control it wanted, said Paul Briggs, the company's director of customer marketing.


"We wanted very tight integration between our customer data and e-mail," he said. "This allows us to use our customer data more selectively."


Bringing its e-mail marketing inhouse saves Travelocity.com at least $10,000 a month, he said. The company sends more than 30 million e-mails a month to its more than 25 million members.


The Fort Worth, TX-based company offers e-mail newsletters and alerts, including 1.2 million monthly itinerary e-mails that go to members within 24 hours of their making a reservation of ticket purchase. Travelocity.com also has Fare Watcher, which alerts members to the best airline fares to pre-selected cities. The company sends 4.4 million Fare Watcher e-mails a month and still uses L-Soft to produce the newsletter. Three million members receive the company's "The Insider" monthly newsletter. And 3 million of its most active members get its biweekly "Real Deals" newsletter, which highlights special deals.


"Our Fare Watcher is a highly personalized daily e-mail," Briggs said. "We wanted to be able to do that with all of our customer e-mail."


Travelocity.com's e-mails are personalized using different member preferences, including destination, preferred airlines and pricing levels.


"Our industry may be a bit different than others," Briggs said. "Our prices change often. The price of a book doesn't really change much in six months."


In the airline industry, fares to 40,000 to 50,000 markets change daily, he noted. Travelocity.com lists about 220,000 fares to various cities a day.


"E-mail tends to be a little more complex than generally thought of," Briggs said.


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