Moving E-Mail In-House Boosts Travel Firm's Results

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Monthly bookings have risen from tens of thousands of dollars to $1.1 million for Vantage Deluxe World Travel in the year since the company brought its e-mail marketing in-house.


The switch gave the company more control and lowered costs for the 5 million to 6 million e-mails the company sends weekly.


"If you are doing 10,000 e-mails per week, it's better to stay outside," said Tracy Emerick, senior vice president of marketing at Vantage Travel. "But if you are doing over a million e-mail messages per week, the economics tell you that it is time to do your own thing." In addition, "when you have your own ability to do your own e-mail campaigns, you can be more flexible."


Vantage Travel, Boston, targets adults 55 and older. E-mails go weekly, promoting specific travel offers to the several hundred thousand travelers in its database. Offers range in price from $1,500 to $4,000. Vantage also sends a weekly e-mail campaign to promote a special offer, conduct requalification of existing contacts in the database or generate new leads through referral promotions.


Vantage Travel signed with MarketFirst Software Inc., Mountain View, CA, last June to use its MarketFirst software that manages complex relationships throughout the customer life cycle. Vantage said that using MarketFirst lets it promote special offers and fill a tour on much shorter notice. Also, it can pass savings along to the consumer in the form of discounted tour rates.


"Because of the control we now have with our in-house solution, the e-mails we send out are more time-sensitive, so we move tour packages in record time, resulting in greater occupancy rates and increased revenue," Emerick said.


After implementing the solution, Vantage said it now averages 70 new tour bookings weekly and receives $100,000 to $280,000 weekly in bookings from its campaigns.


Vantage said MarketFirst also helps cut costs by eliminating the need to requalify its database contacts by sending hard-copy surveys to gauge consumer interest. This was costly with an outsourced system, but by moving in-house, Emerick said, "Vantage now conducts requalification through e-mail surveys with no variable costs at all."


Emerick said Vantage drives traffic to a survey form hosted by MarketFirst where respondents provide details about their travel preferences. Vantage uses these details to send automatic e-mails to each respondent providing links to related tour offers on Vantage's Web site.


Vantage also uses MarketFirst functionality to measure yield loss. Emerick said this capability gives the company insight into the dynamics or the success rate of opening and clicking through e-mail campaigns. From this information, Vantage can determine the percentage of respondents who clicked on the links and what number actually made purchases. The data will help Vantage know precisely where respondents' interests fall off and what messages work.


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