Technology helps businesses better follow visitor leads

Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2002

The Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau has a new system to connect its 250-plus members to potential customers and visitors to the Kenai area. And the bureau staff said members are enjoying immediate results.

"Moments after its launch, the new Golden Leads Program started paying big dividends," said Jay Barrett, bureau manager of communications and special events. "The program has gotten some great leads from tourists at no charge."

The Golden Leads Program provides bureau members immediate leads directly from the convention bureau's Web site, The new system outperforms the previous one with near-instantaneous results.

"You (were) looking at three to four weeks, sometimes longer, to get a response back to a person," said Alise Bowen, membership and visitor services manager, referring to the old system of replying to e-mail and calls via "snail mail."

She said that has all changed since the new program started.

"One second, that's all it takes now," Bowen said with snap of her fingers.

Here's how it works: Potential visitors go to the Web site to request more information from the bureau's members. They select from 33 different categories the information they would like returned to them.

As soon as the visitor fills out the return address form and clicks "submit," that request is immediately forwarded via e-mail to the members in the categories selected. Barrett said the number of results are mounting.

"We're generating scores of hits," he said.

In fact, since the program went online earlier this month, Bowen said there have been more than 70 hits. Barrett said bureau members called with glowing remarks just hours after the service went live.

Sharon Brower of the Grouchy Old Woman Bed and Breakfast in Nikiski was one of the respondents.

"I am enjoying the access to the inquiries for B-and-Bs," she said.

Jacquie Steckel of the Red Cabin Bed and Breakfast in Kenai was also pleased with the results.

"I am so impressed!" Steckel said. "It just looks great."

Bowen said the new form was designed by David Edwards-Smith of Borealis Design. She said he focused on making the system unique.

"As far as we know, from talking to David, there's nobody that does it like this," she said. "The other ones, you just get this blanket e-mail and you don't know if visitors are looking for B-and-Bs or charters."

Bowen said another big advantage of the new service is minor economic relief to the bureau and its members, who paid both a membership fee and a leads fee.

"The way it worked, those people who paid for our leads program would get ready-made leads," she said. "It would take about a day to do it, it was not cost effective, and it cost too much for labels and mailing."

She said the Golden Leads Program is available to all KCVB members at no additional cost to their yearly membership dues.

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