Listen to Your Customers
To make offers to which your customers will respond, you need to know your
customers. At Hilton Hotels Corp., analysis of customer response data helps the marketing team create direct mail packages that satisfy its customers' need for information.
"We've tried to look at both customer research and analysis of direct mail
campaigns to make a quantum leap in our programs," explains Joanie Flynn, director of leisure & resort marketing for Hilton.
For example, the Easy Escapes program, a direct mail campaign that informs customers of the different types of vacation packages available at each hotel location, is based on research conducted with customers who receive offers via direct mail, says Flynn.
Before this research was obtained, Hilton used a postcard bounceback campaign
that targeted audiences with single package offers. While these postcards piqued recipients' interest, response data proved that customers needed more hotel choices.
Research also told Hilton that its customers are busy, stressed and fed up with
direct mail that doesn't tell them what the offer is, Flynn says.
Further, the data showed that Hilton's guests travel several times a year, with
different needs for each trip--a romantic trip versus a family beach vacation versus an antiquing trip, etc.
Based on these needs, customers wanted to know the full range of what Hilton has
to offer in terms of travel packages, in addition to any special offers.
The resulting Easy Escapes mailing, created by Hilton and its agency, Blue Dog Blues in Westlake Village, CA, does just that. Included in the #10 envelope package received this March by the Who's Mailing What! Archive is: a single-side, personalized letter; a four-color, one-page lift piece that details three New York City hotel/travel offers; a four-color, gate-fold brochure that provides both descriptions of the Easy Escapes vacation options and a chart of every participating Hilton franchise plus the options it offers; and several tickets featuring special offers at specific hotels, such as free full breakfast at the Hilton in Deerfield Beach/Boca Raton (520HILTON0399).
This campaign gets mailed multiple times during the year to Hilton's customer
base. Hilton targets the special offers with regionalized splits based on hotel locations and transaction data, says Flynn.
On the back end, Hilton analyzes reservations versus who was mailed what offers
to determine if its Easy Escapes mailings are delivering what the customers want. For example, Flynn reports the special ticket offers did induce travel that wasn't already going to happen, but that they didn't spur customers to try new locations. Hilton plans to change the ticket specials to lift response.
The big hit in the Easy Escapes package is the brochure, says Flynn; she's found that people hold on to it for travel ideas long after the mailing was dropped. Another statistic that shows this campaign has grown legs: Six months after the initial campaign drop, response is 50 percent of what came in during the first weeks of the campaign, says Flynn.
The customers' positive response to the brochure has prompted Hilton to place the
brochures in the hotel lobbies, too.
While Flynn and her team are pleased with the success of the Easy Escapes
campaign, the coming launch of a corporate data mart with a campaign management component is generating the most excitement these days. Flynn says that her staff considers this new tool an early Christmas present!