Whether a potential vacationer's preferences incline toward birdieing the 18th hole on the Links Course or doing a bit of birding by watching pelicans fly by the golf course that abuts the Atlantic Ocean, Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, S.C., wants to make sure that experience happens. So in April, the vacation spot owned by Englewood, Colo.-based Destination Hotels & Resorts began an electronic customer relationship management campaign called "5757 Palm."
5757 Palm—Wild Dunes' physical address—is the e-mail and Web site arm of its multichannel campaign, dubbed "Stay More, Save More." WDR Marketing Director Andressa Chapman says the multichannel campaign involved direct mail that led recipients to personalized landing pages, search engine marketing, print advertising, and other third-party utilization and public relations. Still, she says, the eCRM program was the main change in this year's drive to increase room bookings and revenue during the peak spring and summer seasons, yielding a 3,714 percent return on investment in two months—800 percent higher than the 2008 figure of 2,900 percent ROI.
Chapman says to deploy the eCRM program, WDR used Cyclone, the analytics and marketing automation tool from Phoenix-based AIR Marketing, to accomplish its goals of increasing revenue through room bookings (including group stays), upping guest ancillary spending and increasing membership in the Wild Dunes Email Club. But, most importantly, Wild Dunes wanted to increase repeat guest capture and differentiate itself "in a market dominated by special offers."
Here's how Wild Dunes did it:
Target Marketing: What were WDR's goals for 5757 Palm?
Andressa Chapman: ... Whenever we were looking at our business goals and objectives for 2009, we knew that it was going to be a challenging year in terms of generating room nights and revenue. … We knew that we were going to need to create some sort of promotion, whether a discount or a value-added, and really go to market with that. We also knew that our competition was going to be doing the same. So … we put a challenge to our advertising agency ... and our agency came back to us with the idea to create an eCRM program ... And for us, we do eCRM through promotional e-mails and we do eCRM through our event-triggered e-mails, or e-confirmation or prearrival e-mails. They pull in dynamic content, these e-mail templates. ... We worked together [with vendors] to develop clusters based on past guest information and information through our Web site. And we developed these templates, such that information and images are being pulled in dynamically based on what that person has told us they want to hear from us on.
TM: How does 5757 Palm make initial contact with prospects? Is this more of a push or pull program?
AC: Well, we reach out to our past guests and then also people who have opted in to our eClub through our Web site, as well as people who have opted in to hear from us through auxiliary lists, which may be contests that we've run with different magazines where people have said, "Yes, it's OK to e-mail me special offers." So it's more of a pull program. Our promotional e-mails are doing two things: ... We're driving short-term revenue, and we're building [loyalty]. ... We're giving them a little bit of a taste of Wild Dunes when we send these messages. And it's based on seasonality, and it's based on who we are and the type of experience that you can get at Wild Dunes.
TM: What's the 5757 Palms process, from data capture to customer touchpoint?
AC: On our end, we set up the business rules such that the content that goes into the e-mail is first and foremost based on the folio. So if someone has stayed here, it's pulling information on what that person has already done and shown a proclivity for. And then, secondly, it pulls from eClub. So if someone has opted in to hear more about golf at Wild Dunes through our eClub, then it'll pull golf. And then, thirdly, through the type of auxiliary list. So, for example, if we ran a contest with LINKS Magazine, then we know that those people already show a propensity for golf. So we push golf messaging to them that way. ...
TM: How did Wild Dunes let consumers know about the 5757 Palms program?
AC: We sent to our entire database, and we've sent three [e-mails] now. We're sending them every other month, in addition to separate e-mail communications. ... We announced it by saying, "Hey, we're going to start to give you a lot more than just special offers. You're going to get a little taste of Wild Dunes." So it was more of a soft launch, in that it was an evolution of something that we were already doing.
TM: What will happen to 5757 Palm now?
AC: eCRM isn't one campaign for us; it's a vehicle for how we're reaching out to our guests. ...