A coalition of Hilton Head Island, SC, businesses organized a central inbound call center to make booking a golf vacation in the area easy, and the group is marketing this convenience in a direct mail campaign.
The call center, operated by Hilton Head-based Frey Media, lets customers book services with a variety of tourism-related businesses on the island without having to call each one individually, said Susan Thomas, vice president of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce's visitor and convention bureau.
Previously, tourists called the Chamber of Commerce directly and received a golf planner, also produced by Frey Media, in the mail, Thomas said. The planner, which is still available to those who request it, contains offers from various local businesses but no central way to request a package of services.
“We understand the consumers are looking for a convenient way to book travel,” she said. “We wanted to give our destination a leg up from our competitors by offering service that was centralized.”
The eight-panel mailer bears the headlines, “Few Destinations Offer a Setting This Inviting … And Fewer Still Make Planning Your Visit This Convenient.” It urges consumers to call 1-888-GOLF-ISLAND or visit golfisland.com to access an array of vacation options from tee times to hotel reservations.
In addition, the mailer offers four vacation packages ranging in price from $150 to $239 per guest daily. The packages include stays at local resorts and daily rounds of golf.
The chamber sent the mailer to 60,000 consumers in the eastern United States who spent $1,000 or more on golf vacations in the past year. American Express provided the list for the campaign.
The mailer dropped in early January, intentionally avoiding the holiday season.
“People receive a lot of mail during the holidays and have their attention elsewhere, not necessarily on travel planning,” Thomas said. “After the holidays, people begin to think about their travel plans.”
The Chamber of Commerce is still tallying campaign results, she said. However, a 2 percent to 3 percent response rate “would be strong.”
The mailer and call center are the latest effort by a coalition of Hilton Head Island hotels, resorts and golf courses to pool funding to promote tourism. It held a “soft” kickoff of the call center in August, gradually incorporating the 1-888-GOLF-ISLAND number into marketing materials.
The toll-free number has been used in other marketing efforts for tourism on the island, including print advertising, an e-mail newsletter with cybergolf.com and joint promotions with the Professional Golfers Association of America, Thomas said. Call center reps are knowledgeable about golf-related facilities on the island and can discuss options with consumers and offer price quotes.
Though the Chamber of Commerce has run direct mail campaigns before, this one represents a departure in that it explicitly markets the convenience of the one-stop call center, said Karey Burgstiner, account executive with Anderson Communications Group, the Hilton Head agency that designed the mailer.
“This is not necessarily the cheapest destination, but that's not necessarily what everybody is looking for,” Burgstiner said. “These days, people don't have time for things to be difficult.”