eCommerce conference to offer Web insights

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— Executives at the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. will tell you the most effective e-mail marketing campaign they launched last winter was the one that never bothered to ask customers for their business.

When Steamboat's guests stopped by the ticket office to pick up their ski passes last winter, a thank-you note was automatically triggered to their return e-mail addresses. The message didn't say "come back soon." It didn't offer a discount on a return trip in April. All it said was "thank you."

Ski Corp. vice president of marketing Andy Wirth said the response was overwhelming.

The intricacies of crafting an effective e-mail marketing program will be among the topics Tuesday at the eCommerce Expo 2002 at the Sheraton Steamboat Conference Center. Jeff Finkelstein will give the luncheon keynote address on "E-mail Marketing from Strategy to Send."

Conference attendees may also get a sneak peek at Ski Corp.'s newly remodeled Web site, www.steamboat.com. The site, revamped in consultation with SpireMedia of Denver, will go up officially on Sept. 30. However, Steamboat Web managers will be among the presenters at the conference.

Finkelstein is a former ski patroller at Copper Mountain who went on to get an MBA in entrepreneurship and technology management from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is the founder and president of Customer Paradigm, an e-mail marketing and privacy consulting company in Boulder. Clients range from small, one-person organizations to multi-billion dollar giants like BP and Merck.

Prior to Customer Paradigm, Jeff worked for Persona Inc., a $47 million venture-backed Internet Privacy and marketing company. He helped develop, market and refine software tools that helped consumers keep their online information private.

Tuesday's conference isn't just for Web savvy marketers. Organizer Kim Mitchell said there will be ample chance for novices to get the fundamentals during breakout sessions. For example, Winnie DelliQuadri, Stephanie Reineke and Bill Grindle will de-mystify the jargon of the Internet.

There will also be sessions on building a successful Web site and an introduction to the World Wide Web: understanding the Internet and how it can work for small businesses.

For businesses seeking increased exposure for their products and services, Brian Saxman of the Denver Post will provide advice on managing and measuring an online advertising campaign.

The conference will kick off with a talk by Jerry Nichols on "Integrating an Internet Strategy into your business."

Nichols is Vice President of Resort Technology Partners LLC, a privately-owned company with 65 employees. RTP provides industry leading, technology-based products and consulting services to the hospitality industry.

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