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How Direct Mail boosted Tourism Ireland’s conference market

How Direct Mail boosted Tourism Ireland’s conference market


Tourism Ireland’s mission is to encourage people from the UK and around the world to come and experience the magic of Ireland.

While a significant proportion of Tourism Ireland’s time and energy is spent on trying to capture the imagination of individuals, also important is the business tourism market, incorporating conferences, meetings and events.

Not only are corporations big spenders, but they also provide a wonderful opportunity to give conference delegates and business visitors a taste of Ireland and whet their appetite for future visits.


In February 2007 Tourism Ireland was faced with the challenge of standing out in a crowd of 1075 exhibitors at the International Confex 2007.

Its greatest fear was that delegates would assume they knew all about Ireland so would not bother to come to hear about all the newly opened Irish hotels with world-class conference facilities.

Tourism Ireland knew they had a great story to tell organisers. In 2005/6, in advance of a soon to be ending tax break, vast numbers of new independent hotels with conference facilities had opened.

They knew that such a large choice of high quality hotels in glorious surroundings and all with fabulous brand new conference facilities would appeal to C&IT organisers.

The challenge was to entice them to come and visit their stand and meet them and their partners. With so many exhibitors, gaining their attention at the event was going to be difficult.

So, as a first step, the decision was taken to create a pre-mailer that would catch
the attention of C&IT organisers and act as a personal invitation to come and visit.


Specifically, the objectives of this mailer were:
 -  To promote Tourism Ireland’s presence at the International Confex 2007.
 -  To reach delegates unable to attend the show and capture data from those interested in receiving information about conferencing in Ireland.
- Create awareness of Ireland as a conference destination using the Ireland brand and strong imagery

The team came up with the insight that delegates would, at some point, want to stop and relax and so came up with the idea of creating a stand that enabled delegates to experience some genuine Irish hospitality.

An enticing stand was only the first step to getting noticed in this imaginative, exciting
exhibition. Thus a creative, high quality pre-exhibition mailer was developed inviting key conference organisers to join them for a Hot Irishman (a liqueur coffee) or Guinness and some Irish hospitality.

The results were excellent. A 10% response rate was achieved, made up of both delegates unable to attend the show and those who took up the invitation. By contrast Tourism Ireland gets a typical response rate of 2.4% - 4%.

This made for a very happy client and gave Ireland the chance to showcase its warm hospitality and outstanding facilities.

Ireland is a land of magnificent beauty and friendly faces and Tourism Ireland’s mission is to encourage people from the UK and around the world to come and experience its magic for themselves.

Insight and Strategy

For C&IT managers, International Confex 2007 can actually be quite an exhausting vent. Not only is it noisy and crowded, but the endless parade of fake smiles from exhibitors trying to get hold of their money can become quite dehumanising.

By understanding that C&IT managers were human too we knew that the best way to entice them was to promise a respite from the sales environment. Tourism Ireland was a gift of a brand to work with, because at the heart of the brand are the Irish people who are known for their warmth and hospitality.

mabox knew that demonstrating a promise and involving people in the brand is always more provocative than simply talking about it. And the promise of experiencing some genuine Irish hospitality is a very enticing one.

So the mabox and Tourism Ireland team came up with the idea of inviting C&IT managers to have a break and experience some of Irish hospitality by joining them for refreshments such as a Hot Irishman (a liqueur coffee, not a hunky Irish bloke!).

A high quality mailer was created using an innovative, attention grabbing, die cut device that cleverly transformed an image of a Hot Irishman into a pint of Guinness. It promised warmth and friendliness from the first coffee to the last Guinness.

Inside the idea of Irish hospitality was brought alive with both intimate and magnificent Irish imagery and simple evocative copy writing.

This helped one of the key objectives of promoting Ireland as a destination however, Insightful creative,  was only half the solution. Clever targeting would also be critical
to the success of the mailer.

There are an enormous number of C&IT managers, but not very many active, budget-controlling decision-makers. Clever use of existing data was used to create a highly targeted list of high potential individuals. Sending fewer mailers also enabled
us to increase spend per piece.

This guaranteed a superb quality, hard working invitation sent to only the people that could really make a difference.

Timing and Budget

The budget for this campaign was £6,000 and it ran in January 07


The combination of an insightful strategy, provocative creative and strategic targeting resulted in an outstanding response to the campaign.

As a benchmark Tourism Ireland normally generates a 2.4% - 4% response to direct mail and the industry average is around 3%. On this mailer 2.9% of recipients responded with a specific request for more information.

These were virtually all people who were not planning on attending the conference. So despite not having the opportunity to get their hands on a Hot Irishman they were so entranced by the mailer that they wanted to find out more. In addition 7.1% of recipients made specific enquiries at the stand itself. In total a 10% response rate.

The client could not have been happier:

 “As always, mabox took the brief and developed an outstanding piece that represented the brand essence of Ireland and achieved all objectives set. The creative was fresh and
professional yet represented the warmth and hospitality of the Irish people beautifully.

“The response is proof of how this piece resonated with the targeted audience.As a result the Ireland Stand at Confex was a great success with our stand partners all getting some very strong leads,” stated Suzanne Morris, Tourism Ireland.

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