One of the most attention-grabbing promotions this Holiday Season was the e-mail from Virgin Atlantic saying the Sir Richard Branson wanted to give me a personal call to pass along his best wishes for the Holidays. This promotion has the potential to create as much buzz as the automated telephone attendant a few years ago that instructed callers to press 1 for sales, 2 for customer service, 3 for accounting, and 4 to hear a duck quack.
In this case, all I had to do was click on a link to the Virgin Atlantic Web site and tell Sir Richard my first name, my nearest Virgin Atlantic gateway city, select what gift I most wanted from a list, and finally select what time was most convenient for Sir Richard to call.
Although the call I received from Sir Richard was totally computer generated, the integration of my name, gateway city, and the cowboy boots I selected from the gift list was seamless. Mind you, I couldn't get a word in edge-wise, but Sir Richard sounded like he was talking to me.
As a travel professional and podcaster, this personalized audio greeting started me thinking of the possibilities of permission-based, personalized, telemarketing messages describing travel experiences hand-selected for each traveler. The interested traveler could even program the messages to arrive after the dinner-hour. What a novel concept! Telemarketing calls you want to hear -- when you want to hear them. Same principles as podcasting.
Now all I need is a good telephony geek who can help get my content into an auto-dialing database. Know one?