The Millstream is a 35 bedroom hotel in the village of Bosham, near Chichester. The hotel has a loyal following of regular customers, with whom we have traditionally communicated by printed mailings. Our principal mail shot is a Christmas card, which has also included some vouchers to be used in the New Year. In the past we also used to send out one or two other mailings during the year by post. Over the last couple of years we had changed strategy and used e-marketing to get our message across. We decided that it would be worth re-visiting the direct mail approach and chose an autumn/winter offer using an old sub-brand of ours called “Hibernation Breaks”. Having used Pro-Active for our last Christmas card mailing, and been happy with the service we had received, we went back to them for the Hibernation mailing.
The Target Market
We recognised that it would be easier to get existing clients to return than to attract new guests who hadn't stayed before. Although we have over 16,000 names & addresses on our database we wanted to restrict the mailing to people who had stayed here in the last three years in the winter and anytime in the past twelve months. Many of these would have stayed for the first time as a result of other marketing activities / booking channels and might be ripe for a very good value offer. We produced an excel file of names, which Pro-Active de-duplicated for us and removed overseas addresses etc.
We set up a considerably reduced package for dinner, bed and breakfast for bookings before 22nd December 2012. The rate was £79 per person per night midweek and £89 at the weekend. The offer was geared up for a two night minimum stay, but guests who might only wish to stay one night during the week could do so at the weekend rate.
Dealing with Pro-Active
We were fortunate to have Amelia Spitzbart as our Account Manager; I cannot speak highly enough of the friendly, yet totally professional way in which she dealt with us throughout the process. She was assisted by Andy Dawe who is Head of Print and Production; he too was incredibly helpful with the design of our postcard and came up with many ideas including putting the name of the client on the front of the card as well as the back so that their message was very personal. It was useful to deal with a local supplier, who we could visit and work together with.
The Cost of the Mailing
We were advised by Amelia that the Royal Mail's Mailsort 3 was the best value at 22p per item as long as we sent a minimum of 4000 cards; anything less than this would have cost 40p per item in postage. The total cost of 4100 full colour printed A5 cards with a gloss finish on the photo side and personalisation front & back was a little over £1600 plus VAT.
It took less than three weeks from planning to printing and 24 hours from the time that the job was signed off for the cards to have been printed, trimmed and dispatched.
We took over 200 bookings (5% of the total mailing) in the first four weeks after the mail shot, which equates to over £55,000 worth of bookings; we expect this to rise to over £70,000 by the time the campaign has finished. In addition to this we expect to sell another £7,000 worth of extras (teas, coffees, light lunches, bar drinks, wine etc). Total revenue circa £77000 - an excellent return on our investment of just £1600!