The global hospitality industry is larger than ever before with more than $7.6 trillion generated annually. Travel in the U.S. alone generates over a trillion dollars a year:
- Auto transportation: $151.4 billion
- Food services: $257 billion
- Lodging: $220.4 billion
- Public transportation: $192 billion
- Recreation/amusement: $108.8 billion
- Retail: $106.9 billion
Whether you’re promoting your own bed and breakfast or tickets for a major airline, it takes effective—and ongoing—marketing to earn your share of the over one billion travelers worldwide each year.
Online hospitality marketing
The variety of online digital channels for promotion, however, can be overwhelming.
Should you be tweeting about local craft beer specials? Highlighting your hospitality business as a travel destination on Pinterest? Using ads on Facebook to promote low airfares?
No matter what else you include in your strategy, don’t forget about email.
When it comes to driving conversions, boosting engagement, and re-engaging customers, email marketing is still the gold standard for return on investment (ROI). In fact, email marketing can generate up to $38 of revenue per dollar spent, far outpacing other social media channels, paid searches, or affiliate programs.
We’ll cover five tips below for your next hospitality email marketing campaign to help deliver the results you need.
5 tips for your next email marketing campaign
Remember: While these tips below can work for you, they are certainly not exhaustive. To stay ahead of the curve with your online promotion campaigns, you always need to be expanding your knowledge of current email marketing best practices. After all, you can want your efforts to remain proactive and ahead of the curve.
1. Effective subject lines
The first thing your email must do is compel the recipient to open it. That only happens with a great subject line. Key factors to writing effective subject lines include:
- Keep it short. Mobile devices are being used to access email more than ever, and more than five words or 30 characters means your subject line will likely be cut short.
- Make your subject line a call to action (CTA) for the recipient. That is, offering three nights for the price of two doesn’t have the same urgency as making an offer available for only a limited amount of time.
- Test multiple subject lines for each email. You don’t have to guess what might or might not work. You can experiment with different possibilities through A/B testing.
In addition, as per research from Regency Hotel Management, there are hospitality-specific techniques to keep in mind:
- When emailing business meeting planners, make sure to use “plan” or “planning” in the subject line. Never do this, however, with leisure travelers as they want to break away from hard-and-fast schedules for a more relaxing experience.
- Use a property name to let recipients know exactly where they could be. That is, instead of using “Winter is Here” for your subject line, use “Winter is Here at [Property Name]” to create a specific image and location in the reader’s mind.
- In a related manner, if you don’t use a property name, make sure to list the city for the same reasons as above. So, “Rock Around the Clock in Austin” will be more effective than “Best Live Music Destinations.”
- Surprising to most hospitality marketers, putting a percentage discount in the subject line isn’t effective. Instead, pull people in by using a city or destination name and then offer a discount within the body of the email.
2. List segmentation
The days of the one-size-fits-all email blast are long over. Instead, the more narrowly you break down your distribution list, the more effective your marketing will be.
This can be based on demographic information such as age, gender, education, or geographic location as well as buyer personas. Across all industries, the average email open rate is a little less than 25%. With list segmentation, however, open rates increase by over 14%.
For example, this British Airways email offers double Avios points when booking a flight in the next 45 days. (Avios points can be used for airline tickets, hotels, and other travel-related activities.) Instead of sending this to everyone who’s ever bought a ticket on British Airways, it’s only being distributed to the subgroup of customers who are Executive Club members.
While the Executive Club is free to join and has seven million members, this is still a significantly smaller group than the 45 million people who fly British Airways each year. Plus, it’s probable that frequent travelers will take the time to sign up, ones who are more likely to book another flight to earn these double points.
3. Keep it simple
Don’t burden your email with too much information about too many different offers. Sure, it’s tempting to do this. After all, once the email is opened, why not have multiple opportunities to sell to your recipients? But this waters down your offers and confuses your prospects; ultimately, you’ll lose conversions.
Instead, focus on one topic at a time tailored to a specific segment. Research indicates recipients are also more likely to forward or share emails with a single topic.
4. Use only one CTA
Similarly, you should present only one, clear CTA you want recipients to take. In addition, it will be easier to track click-through rates when you only have one or two links to gauge as opposed to half a dozen or more. Research also shows using a button-based CTA— like the Yard House email—increases clickthrough rates by 28% compared to one that is link-based.
Another good example is this email from The Roger New York, a boutique hotel in the center of Manhattan. With its simple design, the CTA “Book Now” button is an integral part of the layout. In addition, except for the text-based link to the hotel’s website at the bottom of the message and links to its social media accounts, there are no other links to distract recipients.
The choice is clear: Either book a room at a 35% discount or not. And this simplicity and directness will increase performance and drive revenue.
Just as tailoring your subject lines to different groups of recipients, segmenting your lists, and offering targeted content and deals, every bit of additional personalization you can add will increase your email campaign’s effectiveness.
This goes beyond, however, just inserting a subscriber’s name or other fill-in-the-blank info as opposed to more dynamic content.
For example, as per this email marketing personalization checklist, you should consider the following tactics:
- Create content based on subscriber demographics.
- Use dynamic content to create offers based on subscriber location.
- Add images which appeal to a subscriber’s buyer persona.
This email from Flight Centre is effectively personalized. Sure, the obvious thing is the use of the recipient’s name, Lisa but, based on demographic data about Lisa, additional features have the potential to increase sales conversions.
For example, if Lisa is a young, single female, the picture of the three women will create a powerful connection.
In addition, the carefree nature of the wording—”Why not take a gamble on Vegas”—will also appeal to a single consumer more than a harried parent of three young children.
As customer data collection continues to evolve, email personalization will be a necessity, not a luxury. Research shows 81% of consumers want businesses to know when—and when not—to contact them. In addition, over 55% of marketing professionals are already incorporating customer feedback and other data to create personalized interactions.
Of course, using the tips above on their own doesn’t guarantee success. As a follow-up to these efforts, you’ll need to track their effectiveness via basic email campaign performance metrics:
- delivery rate
- forwards and sharing
At this point, you’ll be able to track what’s working well and what needs to be improved. That way, when it comes to growing your share of total hospitality revenue each year, you’ll have your finger on the pulse of each of your customers.