Travelocity Plans Greater Focus on Direct Mail

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Travelocity plans to increase its spending on direct mail next year, an executive from the company told attendees to a pre-conference session Oct. 19 at the Direct Marketing Association show here.


"We have traditionally been an e-marketer all the way," said Chris Warwick, director of relationship marketing at Travelocity.com. "We have not sent a lot of direct mail, nor has it been a part of our overall marketing strategy ... But we are changing [and focusing on direct mail] because competition in the e-mail box is fierce. Our hope is that we can identify certain segments of the customer database or certain situations where direct mail does play a role."


Direct mail is an important marketing vehicle in the travel industry, Warwick said, because "direct mail pieces get in front of people and give them something to look at ... Travel is very visual, very emotional. People get very excited about where they are going and what that beach [they are going to] is going look like or what that city [they are going to] is going to look like."


The company begins a direct mail campaign in January focusing on vacation travel to Mexico.


Another factor driving Travelocity toward direct mail is that it will ask visitors for less information in its online registration process, Warwick said. While Travelocity can get address and other pertinent information from booking, Warwick said, one of the challenges next year will be to find ways to motivate people to "want to give me their address."


"We may pull together some value-added stuff, or we may offer some stuff from suppliers," Warwick said. "But again, anytime you are asking customers to give you information, particularly their address, you have to give them something of value to do so."


The company is still improving its e-marketing strategy, Warwick said.


"This is all about aggregating customer information from all of our touch points, [such as] Web interaction and inbound and outbound customer service," Warwick said. "This is an area that we are focusing a lot on now at Travelocity.com."


Travelocity plans to integrate inbound e-mails from customers into its data warehouse.


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