Return on Investment Strong for Infomercial

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Frederiksen Television, Falls Church, VA, has produced an average yearly return on investment of $37.40 per dollar spent on marketing during the previous five years through the use of an infomercial that promotes attractions in the Williamsburg, VA, area.


The attractions include Busch Gardens, Water Country USA, the Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Victory Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg. The Williamsburg Hotel and Motel Association and The Williamsburg Convention and Visitors Travel Bureau provide information and reduced hotel rates as part of the campaign.


The infomercial is for Revolutionary Fun, an all-inclusive travel package that sells for $663 for a four-day, three-night stay in the historic village of Williamsburg. The long-form infomercial began its run in 1995 and continues to air today.


"Travel is an experiential kind of thing and television conveys the experience," said CEO Lee Frederiksen.


"These five attractions got together to develop the package. They had never marketed together until they came up with the notion of putting together a package marketed to families. We worked with them and came up with the idea of a pass that allows you to attend any of the attractions as many times as you want as long you are there. It offers a new level of flexibility that really solves problems for families on vacation.


"Most travel packages are developed for the convenience of the travel agent -- booking extra hotel rooms they are trying to fill [and] hook up with an airline to move their inventory."


In 1995 the long form began as a regional piece, with Busch Entertainment, the company's internal media-buying arm, purchasing time on cable and over the air throughout most of the Northeast. Soon after the long form aired, travelers started visiting from California. The infomercial had made its way onto a local cable affiliate there and people were willing to travel across the country to take advantage of the package.


"It started out with the notion that this would be a regional package, from [Pennsylvania] to North Carolina," Frederiksen said. "We switched it to a national level and now they attract visitors from all over the country. We have now increased overall tourism from people outside the driving area. The notion of being able to go to a place that has history and fun is a pretty appealing notion. It had a greater appeal than we even imagined."


Another result of the infomercial's national rollout was the number of people who saw the infomercial but did not buy the package, yet decided to visit Williamsburg on their own. According to statistics released by Frederiksen and its clients, nearly 300,000 people have visited the area since 1995 because they saw the infomercial. The numbers began slowly with 37,000 in 1995 and have since grown each year, capping off at 85,000 last year.


Frederiksen said that these numbers reflect the infomercial is working to both brand the vacation spot and sell the package. He also noted that this may be a result of integrating the vacation package's Web site, www.revolutionaryfun.com, into the infomercial, giving people something to refer to when planning their vacation.


"More and more people are visiting the area and calling at the last minute and ordering the package. This adds to the notion that the direct response component is really working. The show reduces decision time and makes it more convenient. They don't have to call up and wait for a pamphlet," Frederiksen said.
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