Travel Firms Strike Gold With Co-op Mailer

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Treasure Chest Theme Valued Mail beat all expectations for travel-related mailings when two pieces sent in early October outperformed similar offers the company sent last year.

"People want to travel, and the increased response rate to this mailing shows that," said Richard Shane, president of Treasure Chest. "It might not be right now [that they're planning to travel], but they are inquiring about information on traveling and may be getting ready to travel."

Each mailing went to 500,000 people, split evenly between prospects and people who received mailings from Treasure Chest in the past. One mailing targeted avid skiers while the other went to frequent vacationers. The skiers segment jumped from a 0.5 percent response rate last year to 1 percent, and the vacationer segment maintained last year's rate of 4 percent to 6 percent.

The rates are probably slightly higher, Shane said, since they do not include recipients who visited the advertiser's home page for more information rather than called the included number or mailed in the reply card.

Treasure Chest works with companies and resorts such as United Vacation, Hyatt Vacation, Beverly Hills, Aspen and Vail. Twenty companies and resorts participated in each of the October mailings. Shane said offers inside the mailer usually vary from a vacation planner or a promotion for a specific offer to a sweepstakes designed to drive people to a Web site.

Treasure Chest received some calls from advertisers immediately after Sept. 11 asking whether it planned to continue with the mailing and more calls just before the mailings went out as the first reports of anthrax-tainted mail surfaced.

No advertisers pulled out of the mailing, Shane said. Right before the pieces dropped, the company even received calls from several travel-related organizations and companies looking to participate.

"Once people started realizing how big an effect there was going to be [because of the attacks], we got a number of calls from touring boards and airlines to see if they could get in," he said. "But it was unfortunately too late to get in."

The mailings were not delayed or changed in any way, Shane said.

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