Hospitality Email Marketing Tips to Implement Now | Part One
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Hospitality Email Marketing Tips to Implement Now | Part One

Welcome to part one of our two-part hospitality email marketing series! In this series, we’re focusing on email marketing because it can help hotels and excursion operators boost bookings with new and previous guests. For part one, we’re including important email privacy updates from Google and Yahoo, tips on building your email marketing lists, and the importance of segmenting your audience and personalizing your content.

When Done Well, Email Marketing Can Be a Vital Tool for the Hospitality Industry!

Email marketing provides a direct way to communicate with guests and potential customers and nurture relationships that lead to repeat business, positive reviews and ongoing referrals. It offers a unique opportunity to enhance guest experiences, improve direct bookings, and strengthen brand loyalty. Whether you’re new to email marketing or want to improve your current email marketing strategy, the following three tips are all about building a solid email marketing foundation.

Tip #1 | Build Your List

All hospitality email marketing strategies require ongoing list-building tactics. However, in the hustle of running a growing hospitality business, list-building can easily fall by the wayside unless it’s well integrated into your service approach.

Hotels and resorts:

  • Collect guests’ email information during the booking, check-in or check-out process, and consider adding a checkbox that asks guests permission to contact them with booking details and seasonal offers. This will save you time later cleaning your list and will help prevent your marketing emails from being marked as spam.
  • If you’re already using a CRM, look for applications that allow you to integrate it with your email marketing platform to take advantage of automated features.
  • Collect email addresses when guests log in to use your free in-room WIFI.
  • Include a “subscribe to receive exclusive offers” call-to-action button and email address field somewhere prominent on your website, in a pop-up window that appears before visitors exit your website (and within your website’s footer).
  • Offer early check-in or late check-out perks upon booking in exchange for guests’ emails. 

Excursion operators:

  • Collect guests’ email information when they book an excursion with a checkbox that asks permission to contact them with excursion details and seasonal offers.
  • Before the end of your tour, hand out small feedback cards to guests that include an area for them to leave their email addresses and city of residence, as well as the ability to check off future activities that interest them.
  • Include a “subscribe to receive exclusive offers” call-to-action button and email address field somewhere prominent on your website, in a pop-up window that appears before visitors exit your website (and within your website’s footer).
  • Consider offering to photo-capture your guests enjoying exciting moments of their tour. Doing so provides an excellent opportunity to collect their email information so their photos can be sent to them. 

Whether you operate hotels or tours, consider incorporating your list-building efforts with your advertising tactics, such as using lead form assets in your Google Ads campaigns and Facebook and Instagram lead generation ads with email sign-up capture forms. You can even create a lead form ad from your Facebook Page. Consider offering something of value in exchange for the contact information you collect or host a photo/video contest! Photo contests give you an excellent opportunity to collect email information while also helping your business access more user-generated content to share on your website and social platforms.

For additional list-building tips, check out Hotelier Academy’s article on three ways for your hotel to build a really effective email list.

Tip #2 | Segment Your Audience

Simply put, segmentation is a way of organizing the contacts in your email list into basic categories that will help you determine WHO to send an email to and WHEN, allowing you to deliver more relevant and targeted messages. Even if you’re just starting to build your email marketing list, utilizing audience segmentation features from the outset will save you time as your list grows.

Each email platform may differ slightly on how its audience segmentation features work. Some will even be automated based on the information available when someone is added to your list and whether or not you’ve integrated your email platform with website tracking features. In MailChimp, for example, segments are based on a predetermined set of conditions that automatically filter your audience based on details such as:

  • Recent booking activity
  • How engaged they are with your content (opening and clicking your emails)
  • Whether they actively subscribed, unsubscribed or have yet to subscribe despite you having their email
  • Their Location, which may be automatically generated and based on their IP address
  • Gender and age range

Hotels and resorts: You can segment your lists based on several factors, such as booking frequency, duration of stay, type of travel (business, family vacationer, couples, destination weddings, etc), and interest shown in particular services. For example, frequent business travellers might receive information about your business facilities or loyalty program benefits, while families could get tips about family-friendly activities and services.

Excursion operators: Depending on the information you collect, you can segment your lists based on factors such as people who just booked, people who’ve completed their excursion, the type of excursion they booked and whether they are local or seasonal travellers.

For an example of how segmentation works, check out this excellent outline on how to get started with segmenting your audience in MailChimp.

Tip #3 | Personalize Your Content

After segmenting your email lists, you can go ahead and plan and personalize the content you send to each segment. Personalization differs from segmentation in identifying WHAT to send to your email contacts and WHY based on their interests, preferences, and recent behaviours. Personalization is more than using the guests’ names. It involves tailoring your communication based on the guests’ preferences and previous interactions with your brand. You can utilize data from past stays and booked excursions to customize offers and recommendations. 

It doesn’t have to be complicated!

While larger hotel chains have enough resources to generate substantial content for sophisticated email marketing strategies, personalizing your content can be as simple as knowing what information to send to whom and when—it doesn’t have to become too complicated or unwieldy. For example, you wouldn’t want to send a discount to guests who have already booked with you. Whereas, sending them a well-timed welcome email can set the tone. This is where it definitely helps to have an email marketing plan!

Hotels and resorts: For instance, if a resort guest previously enjoyed a spa service, suggest a special spa package for their next visit. You can also personalize your content to recommend local activities and attractions based on whether your guest is a business traveller, a family vacationer, or a couple on a romantic getaway.

Excursion operators: You can personalize the content you send your audience based on the type of adventures they booked or the interests they expressed. For example, this could mean sending information on your most exciting, adrenaline-filled offers to thrill seekers and solo adventurers while sending content about your all-ages activities to family travellers. It could also mean tailoring your content to niche interests such as diving, sport fishing, private charters, romantic dinner cruises and whale watching.

Personalization is one of the very best hospitality email marketing tips because personalized emails are known to significantly improve click-through and conversion rates!

For more information on the difference between segmentation and personalization, refer to this article titled Segmentation vs. personalization: The difference in email marketing and why it matters by Cordial.

An Important Update for All Email Marketers

While including an unsubscribe option in your marketing emails has been standard practice for several years, as of February 2024, Google and Yahoo announced new privacy protection requirements as follows:

Authenticate your emails: Follow your email platform’s process to authenticate the email address you will use to send your marketing emails. Doing so verifies your identity and makes your emails more legitimate. 

Make unsubscribing fast and easy: Always include a single-step, one-link “unsubscribe” option in every mailing and ensure unsubscribed people are promptly removed from your mailing list within two days.

Avoid being marked as spam: Be wary of what you send and how often. Consider that Google and Yahoo will block your marketing emails if more than 0.3% (3 out of 1000) of Gmail and Yahoo Mail users on your list mark your emails as spam. For this reason, especially, never bulk email your list. Instead, have something of value to offer and don’t overwhelm them with too frequent emails. It’s also wise practice to ask people on your list for their permission to email them — this can be done with a simple checkbox people check off when you collect their email addresses or included in your initial “welcome” email to new people when they’re added to your list.

For more specific information on the latest email delivery guidelines, review this helpful outline by debounce

Ready for Seven More Hospitality Email Marketing Tips?

Visit part two of our series for seven more practical hospitality email marketing tips tailored to hotels, resorts, and excursion operators to maximize their outreach and engagement.

Do You Have Questions?

Do you operate a hotel or other hospitality and tourism-related business and have questions about email marketing, how to boost bookings, and where to focus your marketing resources? Or do you have questions about Google Advertising and optimizing what you’re already doing? We’d love to hear from you. Contact us online today or click here to schedule a call with us.

Additional Resources + Recommendations

Check out these additional suggested resources on maximizing your marketing effectiveness and increasing bookings!

Webinar Recap – Tourism Advertising: Targeting Visitors Before They Visit and After They Arrive

10 Essential Website Ranking Factors for Resorts in 2024

9 Effective CTA Tips for Boosting Online Bookings

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