Email Marketing for Hotels: An Actionable Guide
You might hear somewhere like that, “The hotel industry is one of the world’s most valuable markets.” Well, it is true; however, it’s the story of the past.
The COVID-19 has disrupted our life and business in unprecedented ways, and the hotel industry is one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Hotel marketing has never been easy, but COVID-19 has made it even more challenging.
If profit margins of hotels were slim before, low occupancy and dwindling revenues have made them even thinner. There is no room for error and no budget to waste on campaigns that don’t convert.
In this situation, email marketing appears to be a lifesaver for the hotel industry. So, to help your hotel survive and stand out amidst the pandemic, we’ll show you how email marketing can work for you in this blog post.
Table of contents
- What is email marketing for hotels?
- Why shouldn’t hotels ignore email marketing?
- 6 examples of hotel email marketing campaigns
- 7 steps to start email marketing for your hotel
- PREREQUISITE: Subscriber’s box
- Step 1: Building a mailing list
- Step 2: Segment your email list
- Step 3: Choose an email marketing tool
- Step 4: Make sure that your emails are branded
- Step 5: Build a landing page
- Step 6: A/B test your emails and adjust
- Step 7: Track your results
- ADD ON: Try to expand your email list
- The bottom line
What is email marketing for hotels?
As you might already know, email marketing is the art of using emails in order to promote your products/ services. Moving on to a broader definition, it’s all about using emails (promotional or transactional) to cultivate relationships with various prospects and keep current customers updated on your brand.
So, email marketing for hotels refers to nurturing your booking inquiries to confirm bookings, as well as engaging with your existing (and past) guests to keep your brand remembered - through emails.
You might feel interested in: Email Marketing for Nonprofits: The Essential Guide
Why shouldn’t hotels ignore email marketing?
Simply because up to 94% of internet users use emails.
Suffice to say, email marketing is the most common means of communication currently. And they are not going to lose their charm for a long, long time to come.
Below, we’ve listed some benefits of hotel email marketing.
Spread brand awareness
The primary goal of hotel email marketing is branding. You’re reaching out to your email list, engaging with them, and nurturing them to book with you.
Certainly, not all emails may convert into bookings. However, email marketing can keep you in the recipients’ minds for sure. Even if they don’t choose you right now, they would remember you when they wish to visit again.
Share your blogs, guided tours, recent updates, events, and everything relevant to keep your guests informed. Once your brand is known to provide value to customers, you can add promotional elements subtly, which will motivate your readers to book with you.
Keep your existing and past guests engaged
Emails can add a personal touch to your engagement, making your guests feel appreciated at every stage - from booking to even after the departure. Some stages you can engage with your guests include:
- On booking
- On arrival and during-the-stay
- On departure
- Post departure
It’s essential that you focus on email marketing at every stage of a guest’s journey.
Convert probable guests
Probable guests include all the booking inquiries you’ve received until now - whether from social media channels, your website, or via phone.
Cultivate a practice to collect email addresses, phone numbers, and basic details from those inquiries. This can help you keep in touch with probable guests over time and have a higher chance to convert them into bookings.
Get higher ROI (Return on Investment)
Believe it or not, businesses can earn as much as $44 for each dollar spent on email marketing. That’s an ROI of 4400%! Amazingly!
That’s because it doesn’t need much effort or investment to run once you’ve started. And, if wisely planned and executed, email marketing can definitely give you desired results.
6 examples of hotel email marketing campaigns
Want some inspiration for your next hotel email marketing campaign? Here you are!
1. Breath-taking images with Marriott
When your hotel is based in a location that is worth showing off, do so!
Images in an email can get people to take action. It is one thing to talk about the destination, it’s another thing to show your recipients exactly what their temporary home and surroundings look like.
This email below from Marriott can immediately make you imagine what a wonderful time you could have at these beautiful locations.
2. Hotel award nominations with Hotel Drisco
Hotel Drisco shows that you can use email marketing for more than just promoting your offers.
They leveraged their existing guests to get more votes in a hospitality industry contest. Surely, they are asking their recipients for a favor, but it also shows that the hotel is worthy of an award nomination.
3. Culinary newsletters with Ace Hotel Palm Springs
Another good way to add value to your hotel email marketing is to let your subscribers know about amazing experiences that await them inside your hotel - and nearby.
For example, Ace Hotel Palm Springs sent emails to announce its new culinary partnership with Chef Carlos Salgado. The hotel sent out a mouth-watering email, together with a voucher to try the new menu offerings, and an option to reserve a table. Doing so can motivate your recipients to try something new in your hotel.
4. Special days with Best Western
Email marketing for hotels is an excellent way of letting guests know about special offers, promotions, and discounts. Sending them directly to the recipient’s inbox as opposed to in public social or other marketing materials, and customizing them to meet the guest’s need whenever possible, is a surefire way of making them feel special.
The Best Western hospitality chain achieved this goal well. Their “Deals of the Week” email lets subscribers know exactly what limited-time offers they will receive if they book a stay at any one of the hotels across the US. The campaign also creates a sense of urgency, while giving recipients a feeling that they have a number of options to choose from, at prices that can’t be beaten.
5. VIP emails with Occidental Hotels & Resorts
It can cost 5 times more to attract a new customer than retain an existing one, so make sure to nurture your best customers towards retention with a VIP-inspired newsletter. In short, make them feel special with an exclusive offer for loyal customers only!
For instance, Occidental Hotels & Resorts sent out the below marketing email. While its email is a little wordy, the integration of thanking past guests for their loyalty, the 10% offer in the form of promo code, the clear CTA, and the inviting image come together to create a VIP-esque email marketing idea for hotels.
6. Follow-up emails with The Inn at Union Square
A key element in retaining existing guests is following up with them right after their most recent stay. Don’t forget to ask them how their time at your hotel was in your marketing email.
Let’s take a look at how The Inn at Union Square did this. They invited guests to “Tell us about your stay,” remind them how valuable they’re to the hotel and asked them to participate in a survey. No bells and whistles, but still an excellent email marketing idea for hotels.
7 steps to start email marketing for your hotel
Email marketing consists of a lot of elements, small yet vital to get it up and running for any business. If you miss one element, you can’t get desired results.
So, below, we’re listing a few mandatory requirements to kick start your hotel email marketing. Let’s explore!
PREREQUISITE: Subscriber’s box
Ask yourself: What’s required to send emails?
Answer: Email addresses.
And where can you get those email addresses from?
Yeah, you may have the email addresses of your past guests and perhaps those of your upcoming guests as well. However, do you want to limit it to just that?
That’s why the first requirement for email marketing is a subscriber box.
If you have your own website, don’t miss adding a subscriber box, and make sure it’s properly visible. If you don’t have a website, you can collect email addresses from inquiries coming through phone, social media networks, and even in the guest registration cards when guests are checking in.
Step 1: Building a mailing list
Before sending out emails, you need to build a strong email list of contacts.
That sounds easy, right? But the question is, how can you actually create a great email list?
Firstly, start with your subscribers and guests.
Secondly, regularly filter your email list (say every 3-4 months). This will make sure that your emails are sent to relevant recipients and limit your spam or unsubscribe rate.
We’d recommend not to immediately delete inactive and unengaged contacts. Instead, you can remove them from your email list, but do keep them in your own contact list, so that you can engage with them via a different channel.
Step 2: Segment your email list
One important thing to consider in your hotel email marketing is that you should not send the same emails to different audiences.
Simply because all of them are signed up with you for different reasons. Few may be on the verge of booking, some may be considering your competitors; while others would be just exploring.
That’s why, segmenting your email is a must.
You can segment your contacts based on:
- Domestic and international guests
- Luxury and business guests
- Frequency and duration of their visits
- Deals and specials signups
- Travelers who have cancelled a booking
Once you have already segmented, it becomes super easy for you to send relevant emails.
For instance, in case of business guests, you can highlight your meeting and conference rooms, WiFi speed, and more in your emails. Meanwhile, luxury guests can be made aware of the various recreational services and amenities you offer.
- How to Segment an Email List?
- 5 Most-used Customer Segments in Emails
- 10 Persuasive Behavioral Segmentation Examples
Step 3: Choose an email marketing tool
If you’d like to send emails to a lot of people at once, an email marketing tool is the best way to do that.
Most email marketing tools help you schedule your emails and segment your list effectively. Depending on each tool, you can take advantage of different features and pricing plans.
Below is AVADA email marketing automation for hotels that you can use:
Among many email marketing tools on the market, AVADA Email Marketing Automation is considered the most outstanding and reasonable solution for users.
The platform is designed with a user-friendly and intuitive interface, so it’s simple to use for novice users. For anyone with no ideas on email designing, the app offers ready-made email templates that can save a lot of time and effort.
As we said before, building a mailing list is a critical step to do email marketing for your hotel. AVADA Email Marketing can help! More than just collect emails, AVADA’s sign-up forms let hotels deliver promo and useful content or updates to their visitors. You can take advantage of its:
- Newsletter popup
- Inline form
Plus, AVADA Email Marketing makes it simple to target and segment your guests, so you can get the best possible results. Amazingly, the app offers a free plan together with a 14-day free trial for you to experience. So, don’t hesitate to test it out right now!
Step 4: Make sure that your emails are branded
Do keep this step in mind for ANY email you deliver.
Your emails should tell the recipients about you. They should be able to identify with the sender and connect with the email.
Therefore, don’t forget to add your hotel logo, your property’s name, address, and reply-to email in your emails. Keep them added to your templates, so you don’t miss them.
Step 5: Build a landing page
A landing page is simply a web page that is designed specifically for a marketing or advertising campaign. It is the page where visitors “land” right after they click on a link in your email, ads, social media, or anywhere else. The landing page is supposed to convert your visitors to leads - with necessary information presented in a precise way to get them to fill a form.
Here, for your hotel, the landing page can be your booking page. If you want visitors to book with you, your booking page should be attractive and engaging enough to make the booking, or at least, make an inquiry.
Your promotional emails should include a link to your landing page (booking page or “Contact us” page). For other cases, you can share relevant links, which can be your homepage, blog, amenities, hosted events, and such likes.
Step 6: A/B test your emails and adjust
Also known as split testing, A/B testing email helps segment recipients and present them with the same overall content, presented in different ways. By A/B testing, you can better determine what’s hot and what’s not when it comes to hotel email marketing messages.
You can A/B test some of the various elements, including:
Subject line. You can try different personalization options, together with magnet words or emojis.
Voice. Explore appropriate language for your different guest segments. You may find business travelers appreciate a professional, yet fun voice, while vacationers would love a call to adventure and beauty.
Headers. The first header will show up as your preview text, so choose carefully. It’s better to keep these to a minimum throughout the email, two or three tops.
Design. Keep the balance between images and text, ideally achieving a 60/40 split. High-quality (but not excessively large file size) images go farther than cartoon images or clipart. Keep everything centered, with images and text alternating above and below. Besides, it’s also vital to make your emails readable on mobile devices.
CTA. When asking your guests to do something, ensure that they understand what they will get out of it. Remember to ask, not tell, in your requests.
Content. With your email content, be approachable, yet professional, and keep things between 125 and 200 words for the best CTR (click-through rates).
Step 7: Track your results
At the beginning of every campaign, you should be setting a business goal. Once your campaign is complete, you need to evaluate whether you reached that goal, and improvements can be made for your next campaign.
There are several significant metrics that every marketer should be tracking. These metrics can reveal what you did well, what areas to improve, as well as what content performs the best. Once you know what works for you, you can tailor your own content to replicate and improve those results.
For instance, if you find that your open rate is high, but your CTR is low, then you may ask whether your offer is compelling enough. Is your offer relevant to the subscribers you’re sending it to? Or, perhaps the CTA was not clear enough?
Whatever weakness you discover, you can address it before your next send in order to boost your KPIs and feel good about what you are sending.
ADD ON: Try to expand your email list
This is something that can be done right after your hotel email marketing is all set and running.
Try expanding your email list apart from your subscribers and guests. Considering getting more quality email addresses through OTAs, ads, and so on. This will certainly build your email list, and give you a healthy email list.
The bottom line
As you can see, email marketing is one of the best ways to improve your hotel marketing strategy. Not only can it boost customer retention, but it also helps acquire new guests and increase their spending.
With the right tools, you can even automate your hotel email marketing, so guests know their check-in times and your hotel’s location as soon as they book, which gives them peace of mind. And because you can segment your audience, there is an even better chance to impact your hotel’s bottom line by sending out information and offers that your guests want.
Now, it’s up to you to start using email marketing to drive guests to your hotel!