Hotel Online  Special Report

The New Print Technology that
Will Change Your Direct Mail
September 9, 2005 - Hotels and resorts around the world are working harder than ever to remain competitive and grow market share in todayís economic climate. Millions of dollars have been spent on property management systems, sales and catering systems and marketing databases, in part, to help build repeat business of past guests and meeting planners. The fact is, most of that data is underutilized and many resorts are unable to achieve the repeat business they desire. 

Over five years ago, variable data print technology (VDP) was introduced to the world with great fanfare. Using the latest digital printing presses, marketers could use their customer information to create personalized and customized communications. It became possible to send a marketing message that is truly 1:1.

So where is all the personalized mail? Odds are, you are already getting it but have no idea that the mailer you received was one of over a dozen different versions. Your mailer had a photo on it that was selected because of your previous purchases or what is known to interest you. 

VDP is an incredibly important marketing tool that you should learn about. It can have a significant impact on your revenue and your customerís perceptions of you as a marketer.

What is VDP

So what exactly is variable data printing? To answer that, you should first know the primary capabilities of a digital printing press.

  1. There is no plate or film. The press transfers images on a special blanket that is rewritten each time it turns over a press sheet.
  2. The press is capable of economical production of very small runs. This means your direct mail jobs can be smaller and more targeted.
  3. The technology is five years old and produces very near offset quality.
  4. Proprietary and custom software allows the press to merge images, text and photos to a document based on content in a database.
  5. Set up and production time is 60% faster than traditional methods, making it possible to produce and mail within a couple of days and sometimes hours.
Variable data printing makes it possible to print a spa photo on a mailer going to a past spa guest, a golf image to a past golfer or any variety of images and text based on previous purchases, and print all of these version at one time.

You may already be doing this in a different way. Iíve seen many sophisticated hospitality marketers create preprinted shells of varying images, store those shells and print the back side in black and white when a mailing is needed. While this is proven to be very effective, there is a much more efficient and economical method. 

Capability to change

If this technology has been around for five years, why havenít you heard about it until now? When the technology was introduced, the only people with access to it were printers. They knew what the press was capable of, but lacked critical skills to successfully develop a VDP mailing. Traditional advertising agencies occasionally tried to produce sophisticated VDP mailings but were also missing critical skills. To be successful, a new type of company with a rare combination of skills had to emerge.

Variable data print production requires special skills to set up. A vast array of considerations that do not exist in traditional printing come into play. 

  1. Getting the name on the card right.
  2. Complex graphic design that considers an infinite variety of finished output.
  3. Preparing data to support the press run.
  4. Addressing and presorting mail on the press for optimal postage rates.
  5. Proofing multiple variations.
  6. Helping marketers create a strategy that will benefit from VDP. 
If youíve read this far you might be saying, this sounds too difficult to be worthwhile.  If you do not choose a company that specializes in this style of production, it most certainly will be.

CRM Implications

What does this mean for hospitality companies that have invested in CRM solutions? Simply put, it changes everything. It will change your strategies and it will change your tactics. Itís no longer necessary to test offers to find the best overall offer. You can now vary your offers based on whatever factors you decide. You no longer have to lump together large segments of guests, you can now treat each person individually. 

Real Results

Does this have any real impact on bookings? Weíve proven time and time again that if you alter your strategy to benefit from VDP capabilities, the response to your direct mail will multiply. Simply changing the timing of your mail can have a huge impact. Before I go further, let me share with you the proven reasons why someone stops to read a direct mail offer, as described by the Direct Marketing Association:

  • The offer came at a time I was considering a purchase.
  • The mailer was recognized as coming from someone I have purchased from in the past.
  • The offer had my name on it and something of interest to me.
To benefit from VDP you must change what you are doing. This is perhaps the most difficult part. It helps to work with a professional organization that understands your business and can help point you toward opportunities. 

About David Metze:

A former travel industry, marketing executive, David has spent the last 17 years in management and marketing luxury hotels and resorts in a diverse range of markets and segments. David is now the President of Incite Response, a direct marketing agency specializing in highly personalized marketing communications. David can be reached at

About Incite Response:

Incite Response is the hospitality industryís direct marketing department, supplying turn key direct mail and e-mail services for a wide range of hotel companies that include, Marcus Hotels, Pelican Bay at Our Lucaya, Preferred Hotels, and Sonesta Hotels among many others. 

With a sharp focus on developing and managing extremely targeted direct marketing programs, Incite Response is able to achieve higher than average returns on our clientís marketing dollars. Call us today to find out how we can generate the revenues you need to stay on top. 


David Metze

Also See: Creating a Marketing Success Story / August 2005
Incite Response Partners With CallMe Corp. To Give Hospitality Clients New Sales Tools / May 2003
Incite Response Introduces PressStart, First 100% Customized Online Direct Mail System / November 2003
Incite Response Introduces 'My Boomerang' Personalized Web Page Service for Hospitality Marketing / Dec 2002

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