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Las Vegas Convention Center Bets On Talking Tile in BTB Campaign

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority this month will launch the second phase of its three-part, business-to-business direct and database marketing campaign that promotes the expansion of the convention center.

The first of the three direct mail packages came in the form of a cardboard package. It was sent in November to 1,000 current and prospective corporate/incentive meeting planners, association meeting planners and trade show producers.

The package said it was from the Las Vegas Convention Center but also was emblazoned with stamps that said things such as “Under Construction.” Once the box was opened, recipients received a white “talking square foot” tile that explained the center’s expansion plans.

When a recipient touched a spot on the tile that said “Press here,” a message said, “Hi, I’m Square Foot 2,011. I may not look like much, but when 1.3 million of my friends and I get together to create the South Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center, we’ll make it the biggest convention center in the U.S.”

The message also said, “With a grand total of over 3 million square feet, we’ll make sure there’s more than enough available space to go around. … Completion of the site is set for fall 2001, so stay tuned.” The tile also included a telephone number to the center and a Web address, www.lasvegas24hours.com, for more information.

Construction on the $113 million expansion began in April, and the groundbreaking took place in November, when the first tile was sent out. The convention authority said the expansion would please current customers but also would allow the center to reach out to new industries and trade show producers that require more space.

The authority hosts 16 of the 200 largest trade shows. In 1999, 3,847 conventions were held in Las Vegas, bringing 3.8 million delegates and contributing a nongaming economic impact of $4 billion to the destination.

“The campaign is designed to grab attention of key trade show producers and increase awareness of the expansion now under way,” said Julie Wolf, senior account supervisor at R&R Partners, Las Vegas, an advertising agency that created and produced the campaign. The mailer cost about $16.50 per piece to produce.

The key trade show producers were compiled in a marketing database created in the convention authority’s sales office. Many of the names came from Trade Show Week magazine, whose readers include trade show producers, as well as names from the authority’s database of 13,000 people.

“We selected trade show producers for this campaign who had enough square footage in their trade shows that they would be interested in our convention center,” said Nancy Murphy, director of sales at the convention authority.

The authority used customized customer relationship management software from Oncontact Software Corp., Cedarburg, WI, to help build the marketing database. The CRM application suite automates an organization’s sales, marketing and service areas.

While the mailing was an announcement – as opposed to an invitation to buy – Murphy said, “There was a great response to the piece. It was quite plain, except for the chip, but it really seemed to pique people’s interests. … It did what we wanted it to do, and that is raise the awareness of the center being built with the right market.”

Murphy said the authority received 15 percent to 20 percent more phone calls than it usually receives for creative pieces.

The November tile mailing was designed as a teaser announcing the expansion. The message in the second tile, which will be sent later this month, communicates a few more details on the expansion. The final piece will drop in late March or early April and will lead recipients to a new Web site, www.lvspaceavailable.com, which includes up-to-the-minute details on the progress of the expansion and how to book the new space.

Wolfe said this is the first time her agency has used “talking technology.” The agency decided to use it because “it was new and different, and the people that we are sending information to tend to receive a lot of direct mail, so we wanted to break through the clutter and capture attention with an oversized mailing that talks.”

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