Collette Vacations is a provider of global travel, offering more than 150 vacation choices on all seven continents. The oldest tour operator in the U.S., Collette Vacations has operated for more than 90 years, through three generations of family ownership. Its offerings serve travelers of all types and ages; these include enriching, value-priced learning vacations in partnership with Smithsonian Journeys Travel Adventures, as well as new Explorations by Collette Tours, crafted to take small groups off the beaten path.
Like many businesses, Collette Vacations has seen new media channels transform its entire industry. For today’s travel customers, interactive Web sites, rich media emails and other types of digital communications have become the preferred way to find and evaluate travel choices. Meanwhile, the travel industry has become even more fiercely competitive, and a growing trend toward product parity makes differentiation ever more difficult.
In reviewing its own online lead generation, retail shopping sites and e-marketing campaigns against external benchmarks and internal goals, Collette determined that major upgrades would be required. Collette identified the following specific challenges for priority attention: Response rates and conversions for emarketing campaigns were below industry averages and internal expectations. Emarketing operated as a siloed channel, with email marketing managed through a third-party vendor and largely uncoordinated with Collette’s traditional direct channels or customer contact system. Collette lacked the infrastructure needed to perform detailed measurements and analysis; as a result, it could not identify the root cause of campaign underperformance or even understand what its customers were doing on its Web site. With a rapidly growing portfolio of more than 150 products, Collette found it increasingly difficult to target potential customers with the right product offerings.  Collette Vacations significantly upgraded/enhanced its new media strategy in the fall of 2007 by deploying Unica’s Affinium NetInsight Web analytics solution. Affinium NetInsight gave Collette’s marketers powerful capabilities for analyzing Web traffic, online customer behavior and Internet marketing initiatives. Moreover, it integrated smoothly with Affinium Campaign, the multichannel campaign management solution. 

Collette was already successfully using to drive other parts of its marketing process. Implementing Affinium NetInsight allowed Collette to quickly and easily integrate Web analytics data with the information it was already capturing and using in other areas of marketing. Affinium NetInsight added an additional behavioral dimension to Collette’s customer database: information Collette greatly value, and previously lacked. For the first time, Collette could link inbound and outbound call center data, customer demographics and Web behavior – and analyze them all together.
As Collette was bringing Affinium NetInsight online, it also restructured to combine offline and Web-based marketing functions in the same organization. The unified team now reports to the same director, shares common goals and works closely together to evaluate information and campaign performance. This unified team has worked not only to streamline technology, but to create a more cohesive experience for customers, whether it be online or offline.
In another major move toward integrating offline and online marketing, Collette brought outsourced email list management back in house. In mid-2008, Collette also rolled out an entirely new Web site, carefully built to reflect search engine optimization techniques, and thoroughly instrumented with Affinium NetInsight for data capture and analysis. Collette built a cross-channel strategy for identifying online users, linking the online and offline behavior of individual users, and accurately attributing responses across channels using promotion codes. Collette’s new, integrated customer view required customer records to be recreated from scratch, necessitating changes to contact rules, as well as new cross-channel campaign processes. Affinium Campaign and Affinium NetInsight provided the technical infrastructure to support all of these improvements.
Collette Vacations is already benefiting from its improved crosschannel data capture and analysis in a variety of ways. The new welcome campaign is an example. Drawing on its newly improved ability to track Web visitors and analyze their behaviors, Collette introduced a new welcome campaign that quickly provides offers via email to identifiable customers who visit its site.
We’re able to send these email offers on an increasingly timely and targeted basis and they’re proving quite effective.
Within weeks of finalizing the linkage between Affinium Campaign and Affinium NetInsight, Collette began responding to customer Web site visits with email offers. Collette began simply, by providing relatively “generic” offers – for instance, to individuals it recognized were visiting the site for the first time.
Even these basic offers achieved significantly higher open rates than the company had experienced previously. As Collette is gaining experience, it is increasingly refining the offers it makes to individual customers, based on relevance. For example, if we know you’ve spent the majority of your time on our site looking at tours of Italy, I can offer you an Italy tour, with a limited-time offer that’s only available with your email code, and only if you book soon.
We can now gain much deeper information about how our individual customers behave. For example, if we email you, do you come online? Now, we can find out – and we believe that information will have real value. Collette’s enhanced ability to track offline and online channels together is especially valuable in the travel industry, since many customers don’t book online but want to ask questions and may engage in multiple conversations and Web site visits before purchasing.
New revenue streams are created through co-op marketing. A portion of our budget relies on co-op marketing payments from our partners, and we have a team responsible for getting financial commitments from these partners. With Affinium NetInsight, the traffic we generate around their products can be more synergistic and trackable. For example, we now do Webinars-on-demand for some of our tour products, such as a Webinar on traveling through California wine country, which drew more than 120 highly qualified visitors. We capture email addresses and track these Webinars on-demand with Affinium NetInsight. This additional information makes that traffic much more valuable to our co-op partners. They’re excited by that and more interested in participating. Meanwhile, these Webinars on-demand cost far less to produce and deliver than sending out videotapes.
There is a greater ability to identify the potential of new products. The number of products we offer keeps growing: it’s now 157, and we’ve been adding roughly a dozen per year. But when I send you a brochure, I don’t know what you’re looking at. We’ve now launched a new Web site that’s extensively instrumented and tracked with Affinium NetInsight and includes features like bookmarking that allow users to create wish lists of tours they’re interested in. Now, it’s a lot easier to identify products that may have potential which hasn’t yet translated into sales.
We’ve traditionally focused our marketing priorities to sell products that are already selling well. But, as we increasingly generate more detailed information, we can identify tours that are beginning to generate interest. We can “sell what interests,” not just “sell what sells.” Can one of our products become a top seller if we see that interest and can actively build on it? Now, for the first time, we can find out.
As Collette Vacations becomes increasingly proficient with Web analysis, it plans to pursue a variety of new approaches to personalizing its site and deepening customer engagement. For example, drawing on the Web behavior data it never had before, Collette will increasingly utilize segmented email campaigns with variable content messaging, and it will evolve its Web content based on what its customers are actually doing online.
Collette also intends to provide tools for agents and affinity groups to manage their own booking experiences. Affinium NetInsight’s improved tracking is especially valuable here. We can now see if an agent or affinity group is still “engaged” with us and visiting our site, even if they don’t have a specific opportunity right now. Traditionally, we were only able to see two groups: those who booked this year and those who hadn’t. But now, we can see more subtle behaviors. And we can use that knowledge to rejuvenate customer relationships more successfully and cost-effectively.

The Results

  • More new leads, and more top line sales. Mere months into Collette’s deployment, the company is already measuring significant improvements in key emarketing sales metrics, based on improved targeting and additional prospect volume.
  • Better email performance. The initial emails sent as part of Collette’s new welcome program are performing 30 percent above industry averages for open rates and clickthroughs; Collette expects refinements will improve its performance even further.
  • Marked, quantifiable improvements in customer experience. Collette’s new cross-channel customer view allows it to push out more relevant vacation and tour offers to each customer, sharpening the focus of each emarketing campaign on the needs of individual customers.
  • Deeper understanding of individual customers. Using its new, state-of-the-art Web site and the knowledge Affinium NetInsight is capturing from that site, Collette is finding new ways to target individual customers, refine market segment, and attract new customers.
  • Deeper customer engagement. Customers are spending more time engaging with Collette’s brand. For example, 60 percent of its Webinar attendees now stay through the duration of each Collette Webinar, and Collette expects this number to improve.
  • Better business alignment. Together, Affinium Campaign and Affinium NetInsight provide the integrated technology infrastructure Collette needed to successfully bring together offline and online marketing in one organization with shared goals and consistent metrics.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Information Management content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access