Resources Hub » Blog » 5 Essential Rules of Email Marketing for the Travel Industry

It’s no surprise that email is an important tool for acquiring and retaining customers in the travel and hospitality industry. However, for many brands, email marketing still fails to make the impact that we know it’s capable of making.

By incorporating these five things, your emails will be both engaging and relevant, see higher click-through rates, and ultimately create a better experience for your customer.

The benefits of email marketing for travel brands

Why should travel & hospitality marketers care about email marketing? What is its value to them?

The trillion dollar travel and hospitality industry is not only alive and well, it’s alive and growing. According to Travel Weekly, millennials travel more than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers combined.

And they’re willing to pay more to do it. Travel and hospitality brands need to market themselves in ways that will attract Millennials if they hope to capture their loyalty, and ultimately, their business. This can best be accomplished through email marketing.

Despite the rise of social media, 58% of people say email is their first “check” of the day. People are already in their inboxes; it’s your job to meet them there with personalized, engaging, and dynamic content that will boost conversion rates and turn travelers’ dreaming into doing.

1. Make things personal.

Personalization is the best way to make subscribers within even the biggest audiences (like those of travel brands) feel they’re being spoken to as individuals.

The simplest way to do this is by using your subscribers’ first names. Email subscriber forms typically collect and save subscribers’ first names. Save these within your email service provider as personalization tags and use them in subject lines, content, and even images.

Personalizing email allows you to build stronger relationships with your subscribers. They are no longer just receiving a promotion from a brand; they’re having a conversation with one. So when Jenn receives an email about discounted round-trip tickets to Aruba, it’ll feel less like a promotional email and more like an invitation.

2. Use segmentation.

Using first names is one of the simplest ways to personalize email, but there are many other ways to help your emails hit home. Looking to take personalization to the next level? Meet segmentation.

Segmentation occurs when you divide your audience into smaller segments based on set criteria like age, geographic location, or interests.  Segments are created based on subscriber data. Collecting and using this data allows you to consistently deliver email that is relevant to your individual subscribers.

For example, Jason lives in Boston. Using segmentation, you can ensure that Jason is only receiving email promotions about flights leaving from Boston. Simply create a new segment with a rule based on location. Your email service provider will make note of Jason’s open location and save it within this segment for future reference. Using segmentation to send Jason targeted content will make sure his inbox stays relevant, making him less likely to unsubscribe and more likely to hit “book.”

Subscriber data may be system-generated, like location and date subscribed, or it may be information you’ve collected and imported yourself. It can also be behavioral, or based on the way subscribers have engaged with past emails. You can even give subscribers opportunities to self-segment by allowing them to choose what kinds of content they’d like to receive.

It’s common practice to send welcome emails to new subscribers. Use these emails to invite subscribers to tell you more about themselves. Send a welcome email that encourages recipients to manage their preferences, and give them the ability to specify the topics that interest them most.

A 2017 consumer email study reported that 53% of consumers feel they get too many irrelevant emails from brands, making tailoring content to consumers’ needs and interests more important than ever.

3. Send pre-arrival and follow-up emails.

Sending travelers an email before and after their trip is the perfect way to set yourself apart from other hospitality brands. Send a pre-arrival email a few days before check-in, and follow up to say “thanks” once your guests make it home. Keeping in touch with customers throughout booking, visit, and departure will make them feel comfortable and considered.

More about pre-arrival emails

Today’s pre-arrival emails are about more than confirmation numbers and itinerary details. They jumpstart the traveler’s excitement and set the tone for the incredible experience your brand has to offer.

In addition to reminding guests of logistics like room type and check-in time, pre-arrival emails can introduce new amenities, alert guests of special offers, and provide opportunities for upsells and add-ons. Customers are more likely to tack on a spa package or a snorkeling excursion when they’re caught up in anticipation of what’s to come, which is the exact purpose of a pre-arrival email.

It’s normal for guests’ excitement to get buried under the mundane and sometimes overwhelming details of their trip. These pre-arrival emails remind travelers of the relaxation and adventure awaiting them. They will also familiarize guests with your brand, which will strengthen the consumer-brand relationship.

The email below, from the Hotel Drisco, provides an example of how brands can use pre-arrival emails to do more than simply provide reservation details (though those are very important and your guests will appreciate having them handy). They have used this email to give customers a sneak peek into the hotel, offer a glimpse of the surrounding city life, and even plan for the weather. These are simple yet impactful ways to make guests feel valued while increasing your opportunities for upsells.


Email example via Really Good Emails.

Follow up to say “thanks”

Follow-up emails make a similar impression. It’s a way to say “thank you, we truly value your business, so much so that we’re keeping in touch even after you’ve left.”

Take things one step farther by asking recipients for feedback about their experience. Asking for feedback communicates to guests that you’re willing to make changes based on their needs and preferences.

This is a great way to generate trust and build rapport, and because 62% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that has asked for their opinion, you might also accrue some return customers along the way.

Invite guests to submit feedback by including a link to a feedback form on your website. Include questions about customer service, facilities, cleanliness, communication, and guests’ overall experience with your brand. Make your questions specific, and remember to be considerate of surveyees’ time by only including the most essential questions.

In the example below, the Thompson Hotel encourages guests to “tell them how they did.” They quickly thank customers for their business and then prompt them to give feedback via a link to a survey.

Thompson Chicago hotelEmail example via Really Good Emails.

4. Spotlight guest reviews.

Collecting feedback from guests is step one. Using that feedback to create conversions is step two.

It’s no secret that consumer reviews hold immense power, particularly in the travel and hospitality industry.

Brands can harness that power and use it in their emails. One study showed that given equal prices, guests are nearly four times more likely to choose a hotel with better reviews. This proves what an important role reviews have on generating revenue.

But reviews are often hidden deep within a brand’s website, behind “Hear What People Are Saying” tabs. They rarely earn spots on homepages or other highly visible locations. Incorporating user reviews and testimonies in your newsletters will guarantee visibility and exposure. Reading positive stories about your brand will give subscribers the confidence they need to book the flight or make the hotel reservation.

5. Incorporate video content.

Including video in your newsletters can boost click-through rate by 200% to 300%. Unlike static images, videos immerse viewers in the sights, sounds, and happenings of a destination.

They provide subscribers with a deeper look into the experiences, geography, cuisine, and attractions a destination has to offer. Additionally, video content can help brands appeal to viewers’ emotions. The colors, sounds, and scenes of a video can tap into viewers’ feelings and leave a more lasting impression.

One report showed that 64% of consumers are more inclined to buy a product after watching a video about it. It’s clear that videos communicate a brand’s message effectively and lead subscribers to take action.

Link out videos by placing play buttons on static images, include GIFs, or embed videos directly into the email. No matter the format, videos will move subscribers to action and boost conversion rates.

email with video

Email example via Really Good Emails.

Wrap up

Your travel and hospitality brands can use email to transform the way you market to your audience. You can create and strengthen relationships with subscribers by personalizing their emails and sending content that is interesting and relevant to each individual customer. You can excite guests, provide opportunities for upsells and add-ons, and show your gratitude for their business by sending pre-arrival and follow-up emails.

Pique subscribers’ interest by incorporating video content into your newsletters, and give potential customers the confidence they need to hit “book” by spotlighting positive customer reviews. The possibilities within email marketing are endless, making it the perfect tool for the competitive,  ever-growing industry of travel and hospitality.

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This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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