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Vantage Travel Generates $1 Million in Profits Using MarketFirst; Deluxe World Travel Company Leverages Email Marketing to Reduce Direct Mail Costs and Increase Tour Bookings

Vantage Travel Generates $1 Million in Profits Using MarketFirst; Deluxe World Travel Company Leverages Email Marketing to Reduce Direct Mail Costs and Increase Tour Bookings

Business Editors/High-Tech Writers

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–May 20, 2002

MarketFirst Software Inc., the leading provider of enterprise marketing solutions, today announced that Vantage Deluxe World Travel, a direct marketing travel company, is using MarketFirst to conduct email marketing campaigns that result in an average of 70 new tour bookings each week. Vantage has recouped its investment in MarketFirst, and is recognizing 100 percent savings just six months after implementation. Vantage already attributes at least $1 million in profits to its use of the MarketFirst solution.

“We exceeded our initial goals for MarketFirst and broke even a long time ago — it has paid for itself many times over,” said Tracy Emerick, senior vice president of marketing at Vantage Travel. “When you spread the MarketFirst maintenance costs over a significant number of emails a year like we do, the cost is almost negligible, so most of what we do with MarketFirst now has zero variable costs. Our challenge now is to make MarketFirst run as profitably as possible.”

Prior to MarketFirst, Vantage used third-party vendors to conduct e-mail campaigns, often paying up to $0.04 per name, per campaign. Vantage determined that by bringing the MarketFirst solution in-house it could reduce operational costs dramatically, break even on campaign costs and improve profits within a year. In less than six months the company accomplished these goals and now generates up to $1.1 million per month in bookings from outbound MarketFirst email campaigns alone. Vantage also estimates its savings in direct mail expenditures have already reached millions of dollars due to MarketFirst.

“The MarketFirst solution has proven to be a very effective solution for Vantage that has enabled better segmentation for more targeted promotions,” said Ellen Olson, vice president of marketing for MarketFirst. “Email marketing is a new channel for Vantage, and is currently a comparatively small, but strategic part of their direct marketing activities. As Vantage implements more MarketFirst functionality, we expect their use of e-mail marketing will increase to support more ongoing customer dialogs. We look forward to seeing the results in another six months as MarketFirst continues to contribute to Vantage’s sales and profits.”

Vantage currently conducts multiple email campaigns each week using MarketFirst. Since there is no direct variable cost to conducting email campaigns now, Vantage can turn a profit with even the smallest response rate. By testing offers ahead of time using MarketFirst, Vantage ensures high response rates that return an average of 35 bookings from each campaign.

Outbound campaigns promote and sell specific travel offers to Vantage’s database that contains several hundred thousand travelers. Vantage travel offers range in price from $1500 to $4000. With an average of 35 bookings from each email promotion, Vantage is seeing $100,000-280,000 per week in bookings generated from MarketFirst campaigns. Vantage also sends out a weekly email campaign to promote a special offer, conduct re-qualification of existing contacts in the database, or generate new leads through referral promotions.

Using email, Vantage is able to move inventory (tour packages) in record time, resulting in greater occupancy rates and increased revenue. Using traditional direct mail techniques to fill a tour on short notice was ineffective — it was costly, slow and scheduling was nearly impossible within 90 days. Using MarketFirst, Vantage can promote special offers and fill a tour on much shorter notice, and can pass savings along to the consumer in the form of discounted tour rates.

Vantage’s growth comes from new customers as well as return travelers, so keeping the database populated with updated customer data is essential to attracting prospects. Vantage was incurring significant costs to conduct re-qualification of its database contacts by sending out hard copy surveys to gauge interests. Using MarketFirst, Vantage now conducts re-qualification through email surveys with no variable costs at all. Vantage drives traffic to a survey form hosted by MarketFirst where respondents provide details about their travel preferences. These details are then used by Vantage to send automatic emails to each respondent providing links to related tour offers on Vantage’s website.

Vantage is currently implementing MarketFirst functionality to measure yield loss. This capability provides Vantage with insight into the dynamics or the success rate of opening and clicking through e-mail campaigns. From this information, Vantage can determine the percentage of respondents that clicked on the links and what number actually made purchases. The data captured will help Vantage know precisely where respondents’ interests fall off and what messages work. This level of insight will give Vantage the ability to fine-tune its email campaigns while in progress to drive better end-results. This functionality should be live in May.

About Vantage Travel

For almost 20 years, Vantage Deluxe World Travel has provided over 300,000 mature travelers with high quality, well-planned travel experiences at the best possible prices. Vantage develops, promotes and operates its own unique travel programs exclusively. The Company creates and markets its own products, so there are no middlemen or extra commissions to escalate prices. Vantage hires the most inventive and experienced professionals in the industry to create travel experiences that are out-of-the-ordinary, yet superbly organized and sensibly paced. Vantage Tour Planners travel the world to find the best hotels, excursions, and program managers, and then negotiate the best prices, using Vantage’s group buying power. This translates into savings for each and every Vantage traveler. Vantage strives to meet — and exceed — the highest standards of quality and integrity in the travel industry, and is a member in good standing of several reputable organizations that share this goal: the International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN); the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA); and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). For more information, visit http://www.vantagetravel.com or call 800/322-6677.

About MarketFirst Software Inc.

MarketFirst offers industry-leading enterprise marketing solutions that map to specific marketing functions and accelerate the adoption of best practices to solve marketing’s most significant challenges. MarketFirst Release 4 is a comprehensive, integrated suite of solutions built on its powerful, Web-based marketing automation platform. The products work together to enable marketing teams to focus on their best prospects and customers by managing complex, multi-step relationships throughout the customer life cycle. MarketFirst solutions dramatically increase the overall effectiveness of the marketing organization, resulting in increased revenue, reduced costs and improved return on investment. MarketFirst’s clients include Applied Biosystems, Documentum, Maxtor, Pharmacia, SAP AG, Standard & Poor’s and Tech Data. MarketFirst is a privately held company headquartered in Mountain View, Calif. with regional offices throughout North America and Europe. For more information, please visit the MarketFirst web site at www.marketfirst.com.

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