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Sun Shines on Mailer for Puerto Rico Convention Bureau

The Puerto Rico Convention Bureau is seeing a strong response to a three-piece mailing originally scheduled to drop late last September.

“We have so far received inquiries that would be worth over $1 million representing over 3,000 room nights,” said Ana Maria Viscasillas, vice president of marketing for the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, San Juan. “We have clients with business on the books, and this campaign can help us close business as well as generate inquiries. A good result would be a 4 percent response rate, but our goal is double that.”

The convention bureau usually sends its one major direct marketing campaign each fall but postponed last year's effort because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The mailings went to 6,000 meeting planners in the United States and Canada on Feb. 4, Feb. 15 and March 1.

“Many meeting planners were on hold,” Viscasillas said. “Our clients have appreciated that we held the launch date.”

Cristina Creager, partner and creative director at The Campbell Group, Baltimore, which created the campaign, said meeting planners were not ready to deal with a sales pitch soon after Sept. 11.

“We started work on the campaign [before] Sept. 11, but there was too much chaos, and that would not have been a good launch,” she said. “We wanted to see what would happen to the market. Our feeling was [meeting planners'] heads weren't there. There were more cancellations than trips booked.”

Each piece went out in translucent 11 7/8-inch by 9-inch envelopes. The envelopes contained messages written in script to appear just under island-themed artwork that runs across the top of the pieces' back panels. The centerpiece of each mailing was the chance to win a two-year lease for a new Porsche Boxster. Also, 40 CD players with car adapters were offered.

“We determined that a three-piece mailer would get the word out more effectively,” said Glen Schorr, management supervisor at The Campbell Group. “A single piece means you get one shot. The overall goal of the program was to generate interest and room night bookings. We want to get people to hold their meetings there. With the Boxster, we wanted to pick a brand that had a high, upscale appeal to match the upscale appeal of Puerto Rico.”

Creager described three as a magic number for direct mail.

“One [piece] goes in the trash, and the numbers go back up with the last piece, usually,” she said. “[This strategy] was designed to get attention in the mailbox. Everybody is competing, and it's very easy to throw away a postcard. With a clear envelope, people are more eager to open it, and the oversized format tends to stand out from standard envelope sizes.”

When each piece is unfolded, the left panel is occupied by a photograph of a 2002 Porsche Boxster while the right panel contains the contest rules, a toll-free number to call to “book your meeting” and be entered in the contest as well as copy mentioning that a new convention center will open in 2004.

“Puerto Rico is better known as a tourism destination, and it's not particularly well known as a meeting or business destination,” Creager said. “People would tend to think of Puerto Rico as a boondoggle type of experience. We want people to know it's a place to conduct serious business along with the fact that it has great beaches.”

Schorr estimated the cost of the campaign at $80,000, including $50,000 for production, $20,000 for the two-year Boxster lease and $10,000 for the 40 CD players with car adapter and fees.

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