Princess Cruises’ Stanley McClurkin-Birge on RSS
In the struggle to access the ever-illusive e-mail inbox, Princess Cruises has implemented a solution to simplify its communication with a key target audience: travel agents. The Seattle-based cruise company recently began using Alterian’s personalized online marketing application and RSS feed solution, Dynamic Messenger, to provide travel agents with up-to-the-moment travel guides. By logging on to the Princess Web site, agents can access real-time RSS feeds containing travel information and updates on sales and specials based on their personal profiles without opening an e-mail.
Here, Stanley McClurkin-Birge, Princess’ director of direct marketing, talks about how RSS is improving its online tracking, increasing agents’ access to promotional fares and boosting the cruise company’s sales.
Target Marketing: What was your goal for improving your communications through RSS, and how is it working?
Stanley McClurkin-Birge: We introduced the RSS format, OneSource Notices, to make it easy for travel partners to request and receive the latest news, promotional fares and offers from Princess Cruises. An RSS feed is a great nonintrusive format for travel agents to access timely information and encourage them to visit our Web site. Princess easily leverages e-mail, dynamic content, database marketing and analytics to create a trackable RSS stream that ultimately benefits the travel agent.
TM: How is the new method affecting deliverability?
SMB: With a pull technology such as RSS, deliverability is no longer an issue. Our OneSource Notices are user-requested, real-time feeds, so they don’t require the extra step of actually opening an e-mail. We don’t even need e-mail addresses, [which] are required to deploy an e-mail campaign. This also allows all agents in an organization to have access to the information they want. They simply log in and have access to everything.
For the RSS feeds, we are able to repurpose e-mail marketing content with no added cost or effort. The live feed is data-driven and tied directly to our e-mail campaigns.
TM: Has the new program improved tracking?
SMB: Absolutely. The same measurement and reporting features Alterian’s Dynamic Messenger applies to e-mail delivery are also available for the RSS feed. The RSS tracking metrics help us measure the effectiveness of our total online marketing campaigns.
TM: How well is the message getting to your audience?
SMB: The combined tracking and measurement features make an important difference for our travel agent target. When an agent logs into the Princess OneSource Notices site, they receive information based on their complete profile, generated through our connected RSS and e-mail metrics.
TM: How will these changes affect the program going forward?
SMB: The RSS feed began as an easy way to improve service to travel agents, but will become a powerful marketing mechanism as we take a more multichannel approach to reaching our customers. With the Dynamic Messenger RSS functionality, Princess Cruises can now track clickthroughs and open rates that will assist with future content development and promotional offers.