Thomas continued, "We continued to strengthen our sales and marketing team in 2012 by refocusing existing resources and with additional hires to support our digital efforts. At the same time, we reduced operating expenses by $5.9 million, meeting our target, and protecting our profitability in the face of an 11 percent decline in total delegates traveled for the year. We also returned capital to our shareholders in the form of a special dividend and an accelerated share repurchase program during the fourth quarter."
"We made significant strides on our multi-channel strategy this year as we refine the right mix of digital, direct mail, and other methods in our approach. We continued to roll out market-specific coordination of direct mail and digital and also continue to test higher touch conversion channels including webinars and telesales, both of which have performed well thus far in generating incremental enrollments for the 2013 programs. In 2013, we will continue to adjust the direct mail component to further increase the productivity of the campaign while reinvesting these savings in digital initiatives as we continue to focus on synchronization of the direct mail and digital channels."
"In addition, we will be testing a selling cycle shift this spring to accelerate the timing of our early enrollment efforts. Moving to multiple campaigns will serve two purposes: to provide a last enrollment opportunity for the 2013 travel season as well as kick off the selling season for our 2014 programs much earlier than we have historically. The changes we have made to our business, as well as improved information from our database suppliers, are enabling us to evolve to a year-round marketing strategy that better aligns us with consumer behavior while mitigating some of the risk associated with such a strong emphasis on the fall marketing campaign."
"We are seeing our hard work have an impact. The withdraw rate to this point in the campaign for 2013 travel has improved compared to the same point in 2012. We believe enhanced social media engagement, coupled with higher touch, customer service-driven tools, were significant contributors to the current year-over-year improvements in retaining delegates to this point in the sales cycle."
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