Great Southern Rail

Lifestyle, Travel

Targeting hot prospects to build a quality database

Business challenge

Great Southern Rail (GSR), who manages The Ghan and the Indian Pacific trains, sourced 80% of sales via travel agents. 

They were keen to boost their direct sales activity by building a qualified prospect database, and marketing promotions and products direct to the target audience.

The challenge set was to identify prospects in the mature age market and develop a concept that would be ‘campaignable’, working across a number of promotional and product activities, to meet the communication objectives.

GSR would measure the success of the campaign on the number of responses from prospects.


Evergreen was able to target people who indicated they had an interest in train travel and or holidaying within Australia.

We wanted to make the piece highly targeted and engaging. In sourcing the data, we included appropriate filters such as age and travel intentions.

Our data search yielded 58,908 records, which was split across three different campaigns (one for The Ghan, and two for the Indian Pacific).

Also, in an effort to reach keen travellers in the USA market, Evergreen used their strategic alliance with AARP, America’s largest publishing network with around 40 million members.


The campaign was based around the concept of a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience, with tonality that was quintessentially the great Australian outback landscape. ‘Journey of a lifetime’ used the rich images of our vast, changeable continent, blended with the iconic appeal of two of the world’s greatest train journeys.

An elegant, impactful 8-page brochure was produced, with an equally powerful address sheet, creating a high level of interest and motivating the recipient to stop and open the mail piece. The format allowed for ample product information, short-term retail offers and an incentive to respond.

GSR offered the chance to win 2 Gold Service tickets provided an attractive enticement for recipients to provide more personal details and answer some basic profiling responses to questions.

A perforated entry form and reply paid envelope made the process easy for respondents to enter and also request a catalogue.

An online campaign also ran in AARP’s travel e-newsletter, which is delivered fortnightly to member’s inboxes .

A secondary channel used was the AARP’s general weekly newsletter, using a run of newsletter ad option.

As an extension of the creative used for the local direct mail campaign, the strong and uniquely Australian imagery resonated perfectly for the USA audience.


The campaign was considered very successful by GSR, with a 7.09% response rate to ‘The Ghan – Journey of a lifetime’ DM and a 5.54% response rate to subsequent ‘Indian Pacific – Expand your horizons’ DM.

Overall, the database of direct customers grew by almost 4,000 names and addresses.

The online execution was also highly successful.

"With an average click-through rate for aarp newsletters of 0.15%-0.2%, this campaign managed a click-through rate of 0.633%; a really great metric!"
Great Southern Rail

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