Vegas Hotel Testing Video in E-Mail Campaign

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The Venetian, a Las Vegas hotel and casino, will run a campaign in August testing the profitability of video in e-mail.

The e-mail will be sent to 60,000 existing customers. Video highlighting the upscale hotel and its 3,000 rooms will be embedded in the message. The footage addresses the hotel's gambling facilities only briefly.

"The reason for not mentioning the gambling aspects more is due to wanting to focus on the beauty of our rooms," said Chris Stacey, Internet marketing manager at the Venetian.

The campaign also will include ITXC Corp.'s Push to Talk technology, which lets users initiate a customer care call directly from e-mail. ITXC, Beaverton, OR, has combined its technology with video software from H2F Media, Oswego, OR, for the Venetian campaign.

The hotel has used Push to Talk without video a handful of times since January and has received a response rate around 1.5 percent. The Venetian thinks its audience has the technological capability to view video in a quality experience because its core demographic makes more than $100,000 annually.

Stacey said the campaign will answer the question of return on investment for video.

"If about 4 [percent] or 5 percent end up booking rooms, then we can justify spending the extra money," he said.

The Venetian also will test Push to Talk's appeal by not mentioning the hotel's Web site, forcing recipients to use the technology if they want a room.

Stacey did not disclose costs for next month's campaign. However, ITXC claims that past Venetian campaigns involving Push to Talk cost around $500 and have generated as much as $125,000 in revenue.

When recipients click the Push to Talk button, a pop-up Internet window appears that lets them type in their phone number. An automated system kicks back a phone call within minutes. The recipient then either speaks immediately to a customer call center agent or waits for an available one, depending on the situation.

Shilo Inns Hotel in June became the first company to use the video-enhanced Push to Talk. However, results will not be available for two months because the company is overhauling its marketing software.

The Lincoln, OR-based firm plans on using the technology again in e-mail campaigns this fall with live streaming video. Recipients will not have to press the play button, as the video presentation will begin immediately after they open the message.

"We are expecting the streaming live video to be a hit with our customers," said Darla Sharer, director of sales and marketing at Shilo Inns.


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