Arts & culture

Leisure Pass uses automated, dynamic email programs to inspire sightseers

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For many organisations email is an exceptionally powerful way to generate repeat business, but what if 95% of your customers are only likely to buy from you once, however good the product?

That is the dilemma facing the Leisure Pass Group. The sightseeing and tourism technology specialists develop and manage city passes in some of the world’s top destinations. The all-inclusive passes, targeted at inbound visitors to the various cities provide excellent value for money, giving access to between 50 and 60 attractions, tours and landmarks in each city, with such diverse attractions on offer as The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, the Tower of London in London, The Louvre in Paris and Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie Museum.

The passes are created with the visitor in mind, offering great savings to the top attractions in the city, many including fast track entry. Many of the passes come with travel or give the customer the option to add this, creating a package that not only offers great savings but a huge convenience on purchasing individual tickets. Customers also benefit from additional special offers in the city, a free guidebook and a choice of pass duration to match their stay duration.

The challenge of determining which city a customer may visit next is a complex one and as Oliver Bedford, Online Marketing Manager, points out, “Repeat purchases and cross selling our other city passes is a major marketing challenge, just because someone has enjoyed a city break in London doesn’t mean they will visit another European city in the next year or even 5 years”.

“We have to look at each market and determine the likelihood that they may travel again and to what city, ensuring that we are top of mind when they do travel. With email we are able to continually stay in touch and serve relevant content to them as we believe that even if they aren’t travelling they will have friends and family who are.”

Unique Customers Profile

Satisfying such a unique customer profile calls for a wide range of innovative approaches to maximize customer value. The email strategy is primarily to encourage conversion and then support and serve relevant content to them before they arrive, from real-time dynamic weather updates and information on special exhibitions, to travelling between attractions and restaurant recommendations.

“We run around 200 different automated email campaigns from prepurchase, browse abandon through to pre-arrival and post visit,” comments Oliver. “Ensuring the emails are as timely and relevant is essential. From localized languages to optimized send times per market we ensure we are matching the customer preferences in a bid to convert them.”

Oliver joined the company two years ago and rapidly realized that with such an intense mix of content, destinations and customer preferences, they needed to automate as much of the email composition and dispatch as possible.

“Before I arrived email was used at a pretty simple level. It was a case of sending out a few basic pre-arrival emails and survey/post visit emails.” “We’d done nothing around cross sell, or created innovative data capture methods that allowed us to build highly converting email campaigns. We ran cart abandonment emails with an external company but soon brought these in-house and started automating pretty much all of our email activity
to ramp up interaction with our site visitors,” he continues. “We worked closely with the guys at Dotdigital to create a map of the various on-site touch points and mapped out an email communication strategy that best allowed us to engage and convert these visitors, serving them relevant email content every step of the way.”

Understanding customer’s psychology One of the key considerations that drives email engagement is understanding the decision and buying cycle customers follow, as Oliver explains.

“For most people deciding what to do when they arrive in the city is a considered decision, and most travellers will spend days, even weeks, researching the places they want to visit and attractions they want to see. For that reason we have created a number of useful content downloads, including an interactive guidebook, tourist map and blog. In return for an email address people get downloadable content which helps them plan their trip, from which attractions are must-sees, to what’s going on in the city when they are visiting.”

“This engaging content results in high download, open, click and conversion rates as the person is more open to receiving emails, knows what to expect and can learn about the product in bite size chunks,” he continues. “Of course, once we have started a dialogue with them we are able to gather a wealth of data about them and can tailor the content even further, from which attraction pages they have visited to when they will arrive in the city.”

As we mentioned before, one downside they face is being unable to guarantee the effectiveness of cross-selling to previously happy customers. However, despite this, Oliver still sees value in using email to keep customers informed of new destinations or attractions that they might find interesting in other cities.

“We can’t easily identify where someone will visit next, but we can be top of mind when they are next travelling to one of our cities. To do this we run campaigns that promote our other cities on a quarterly basis after they have travelled. Based on activity on these emails we can then build segments of people we believe may be travelling to a destination in the next 12 months and target based on this.”

Oliver is a great believer in the value of automation to drive email smoothly across multiple channels.

“On the surface you wouldn’t think what we are doing is complex, but in fact we are probably Dotdigital’s most automated customer with up to 800,000 emails being sent out in a month covering all cities, including localized language campaigns, real-time and dynamic content. The variations of templates and content is pretty far reaching and continually growing. Ensuring each person gets tailored content can be challenging and that is why automation and programs built on rules are fundamental for us.”

“To achieve a task like that without massive automation would be impossible without an army of people in the department,” he continues, “But by using automation we have been able to streamline the process to an unprecedented degree.”

One example of automation is the use of abandoned basket triggers. If a visitor to the site adds passes to their basket but then does not complete the purchase, the system waits for a period before sending out a prompt. As Oliver points out, “Ensuring we are only sending these emails to people we believe are yet to buy the pass is essential, but it can be difficult to be 100% certain of this as some people will purchase through a partner/travel agent or simply use a different email address.”

However, we can be pretty accurate with this as our sales system, operating system and Dotdigital are all integrated, which Oliver comments is not at all surprising. “Having the systems integrated and talking to each other means we can segment in Dotdigital correctly, ensuring those that do convert are then removed from certain programs and added to others.”

About Leisure Pass

Leisure Pass sends out 800,000 emails in a month, covering around 200 different automated email campaigns from pre-purchase, browse abandon through to pre-arrival and post visit, including localised language campaigns, real-time and dynamic content.

Dotdigital as an ESP allows us to complement our other digital marketing channels, supplying us with an easy-to-use, automated system that makes our ability to convert and engage people much easier”

Oliver Bedford, Online Marketing Manager, Leisure Pass
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Overall Oliver is pleased with the ability to quickly and easily track the ROI of email and the impact it has, another reason it sits at the core of their customer engagement strategy. “Dotdigital as an ESP allows us to complement our other digital marketing channels, supplying us with an easy-to-use, automated system that makes our ability to convert and engage people much easier.”

“Tracking and testing are two important elements that we are always using, and the system allows us to do this easily, from testing subject lines and content to complex email programs.” he continues. “The ability to segment, target and automate are key elements in our strategy and we only expect this to continue going forward with Dotdigital.”