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Nuts & Bolts - Case Study : Club ABC Tours Finds ROI in VDP

November 2009 By Hallie Mummert
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Challenge: Acquire new members and generate bookings among current customers.
Solution:
Variable data direct mail campaign.
Results:
More than $400,000 in revenue and nearly 150 new members in the first four weeks of the launch.

With less money in consumers' discretionary spending piggy banks, the travel sector has been hard-pressed to find business this past year. And as is the case across numerous sectors, marketing with the same old, same old tactics just isn't moving the needle. So Club ABC Tours, a Bloomfield, N.J., private travel club that specializes in worldwide travel for cost-conscious consumers, decided it was time to up the ante.

Working with Magjak Printing, a Port Chester, N.Y., provider of printing and one-to-one marketing services, Club ABC Tours developed a variable data print (VDP) self-mailer campaign that addressed several segments of customers and prospects with messaging based on either their prior travels or propensity to visit new locales. First, the marketer's customer database—predominantly 55 years or older, homeowners, and with incomes of $50,000 or more—was mined to zero in on the best targets for this effort, based on data quality, propensity to respond, etc. Then, a prospecting file was assembled.

For the creative platform, says Bruce Browning, president of Magjak Printing, Club ABC Tours settled on three options: a holdout approach, which was two-color and featured generic trip recommendations; a market-typical approach, which was four-color and destination-oriented, highlighting several locales of probable interest to the member; and a modern approach, which used a more conceptual four-color graphic, involving a suitcase with an airline baggage tag that featured name personalization and a recommended travel destination.

All three approaches were further customized based on whether the recipient was an active member, dormant member, prospect, etc. As such, messaging throughout the piece was targeted, including offers that ranged from two-for-one membership rates and trip discounts. Browning points out that Club ABC has very good data on its members, including who traveled where and when, what hotels they stayed in, and other details useful for targeting.

Still, when asked what was the most challenging aspect of campaign development, Club ABC Tours Executive Vice President John Samuel states, "It was certainly the data—normalizing and standardizing the records, and creating a format that we could leverage." But in the end, challenge became opportunity when Samuel and team realized the numerous options for creative direction. "At times, we were like kids in a candy shop with ideas on what to test, which can easily delay schedules," he notes.

 

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