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PERSONAL bests 805

August 2005
Borgata Wins Repeat Revenue

[The Business Objective]

When visitors come to the luxurious Borgata Hotel ( in Atlantic City, NJ, they spend money in the hotel, the casino and the spa. In return, guests leave with memorable experiences and, since 2003, a targeted mailing campaign has helped the hotel capitalize on these memories to encourage repeat visits and drive more revenue.

With its 2,000 guest rooms, 125,000 square feet of gaming area, 11 restaurants, boutiques, a spa and event space, the Borgata is an impressive property. Still, the elegant facility competes with many other casinos and hotels in Atlantic City, and Borgata managers want to encourage customers to return to their facility.

When approached by print provider/agency Vestcom International ( about a variable data digital printing marketing campaign, Borgata executives were receptive. Vestcom provides general marketing, e-marketing and retail marketing and communication services, along with database management, data processing, printing, mailing, fulfillment and distribution.

[The Proposed Solution]

A key component of a successful targeted campaign is relevant information to populate personalized mailings, and the Borgata was already capturing this through their loyalty card program. Tracking customers' spending and gambling habits is a common practice in the gaming industry. In return, cardholders receive special offers from the Borgata.

A digital print marketing campaign called the Welcome Bounceback mailer was created to take advantage of the Borgata loyalty card program data.

[Variable Data Elements]

Joe Mislinski, CIO of Vestcom, notes that the gaming industry is much more sophisticated than many markets in its use of variable data marketing. "They've been tracking their customers for years," he says.

Consequently, the data acquisition and tracking tools used by the gaming industry are comprehensive and robust, and Vestcom extracts data from the Borgata's systems for the Welcome Bounceback campaign.

The Borgata captures daily customer transaction data from three different sources: the hotel system for purchase data about the room and other services in the hotel; the casino system, which captures gaming activity; and the food and beverage system for food and beverage orders in the casino or elsewhere on the property.

Based on spending habits, casino customers are assigned to a tier, which is used in combination with guest transaction data to trigger the selection of the images and the special offers made to each client. The resulting Welcome Bounceback mailer is fully variable. Along with name and address, 12 rectangular panels are customizable with images or text elements. Possible selections including special offers for spa services, dining, shopping, hotel upgrades and the casino.

"We have over 150 different images in our library, which gives us something like 35,000 different possible combinations," Mislinski says. "Each piece is unique; every recipient gets a fully customized mailer."

[How it Was Produced]

Every day, the Borgata transmits data from the previous 24-hour period to Vestcom, where it is stored in a Kana

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application. Vestcom's analysis tools and data are available online to Borgata sales and marketing staff to help them analyze purchasing patterns and develop the best offers to encourage return visits.

Each piece is printed and mailed within 72 hours after the guest has left the property, and distribution of the mailer runs from 2,000 to 25,000 pieces a day. Exstream's Dialogue software is the composition program for the personalized pieces, and an IBM InfoPrint Color 130 and Xerox iGen3 digital production press produce the attractive, colorful mailers.

[The Results]

Taking a gamble on variable data marketing has paid off for the Borgata. Results from the completely personalized Welcome Bounceback mailer are double, if not triple, those of traditional direct marketing. Response rates have been in the high 20 percent range, compared to 10 to 20 percent for other types of mailings.

The response rates are even more impressive considering they are not simply the number of people who indicate an interest in returning, but an even more significant measurement of actual revenue from those repeat visitors. In the gaming industry, response rates for return visit campaigns are calculated on the basis of how many people actually come back and spend money.

Mislinski says that the latest results from the ongoing campaign have been lower than earlier mailings only because of the way the response rates are calculated. These days, the facility continually operates at full capacity. This means someone may receive the mailer and want to return, but finds that the hotel is booked—and attempts to book are not counted by the facility as responses.

In other words, the campaign's ongoing success makes it almost impossible to achieve higher response rates.

This case study comes from PODi's annual Best Practices in Digital Print research, the largest collection ever assembled of successful digital printing projects. PODi is an industry initiative with hundreds of member companies, including executive board members EFI, HP, IBM, Kodak NexPress, Pitney Bowes, Quark and Xerox. Membership in PODi is open to most types of companies and organizations involved in digital printing. Visit for more information.

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