The hotel industry is one of the world’s most valuable markets, bringing in over $600 billion each year.
For hoteliers, the question is — how do you get a chunk of that pie? After all, competition is fierce, and hotels in cities and towns worldwide compete for business every day.
One way to beat the competition is to launch a comprehensive email marketing strategy. Stats show that hotel email marketing campaigns get an average open rate of around 22.48% with a 1.61% click-through rate
With the right strategy, this means email marketing opens up a lot of opportunities for converting customers, upselling your hotel, and enticing customers to return next time they’re in town.
In this piece, we’re going to show 6 steps you should follow to create an email marketing process that’ll bring more customers through your doors.
Editor’s note: If you’d like to better understand why email offers the best ROI, consider starting with our email marketing basics guide first.
Table Of Contents
1. Collect emails from leads and guests
The first step in your email marketing strategy should be collecting emails for your email list. After all, without a list, you’ll have nobody to send your marketing materials to.
Start with your hotel records to see if you have any email addresses on file from past guests that can be used for your marketing efforts.
While doing so, pay attention to the type of consent your guests have given you. Email is a permission-based marketing channel and you don’t want to start your program off the wrong foot.
Next, start collecting emails from newer guests. You’re going to need a signup form that looks something like this:
Signup forms collect information, like names and email addresses, from guests and people who visit your website.
But that’s not all; just setting up your signup forms isn’t enough to collect emails. You need to entice them to hand over their details. To do that, you can offer incentives (so-called lead magnets) like:
- Members-only deals and discounts
- Early room check-in
- Discount for their stay
- Hotel guide with information about the area
- Upgrades or extras like free spa/massage
Now, to launch a signup form, you are going to need some coding skills. But if that’s a challenge for you, you can use a tool like GetResponse to build your forms and integrate them into your website and social media platforms easily.
Even more, you can set GetResponse to show your signup form when visitors meet certain parameters like:
- After they spend X number of minutes on a page
- When they click a particular button
- When they’re about to leave a page
Naturally, on top of using forms that pop up on top of a page, you can also use signup forms that are embedded or even hosted on standalone landing pages.
Here’s an example of one such form used by Accor Hotels.
Notice that this form is very simple and only asks for a single piece of information one step at a time. And because of how simple this form is, the subscription rate on it is likely to be significant.
This step applies to all verticals, not just hotels and the hospitality industry. To explore this topic further, read our guide on how to build an email list from scratch.
2. Segment your audience
Every guest who stays (or plans to stay) at your hotel has different needs and expectations, so your email marketing should reflect your customers’ diversity.
For instance, a person staying at your hotel for business will have different needs than a family of four traveling for leisure, and this is why you need to segment your email lists. Think about what your guests want to hear about when they get your newsletters:
- If they are a family, will they want information about family-friendly activities nearby?
- Are they planning a wedding or birthday party that they need help with?
- If they’re regular business travelers, are they looking for restaurants they can have business lunches in?
- Are they a new guest, or have they stayed at your hotel before?
- Are they local or traveling in from out of town?
All these questions can completely change what emails you should send to your subscribers. The good news is that by segmenting your list, you can make sure the newsletters they get from you are targeted to your guests’ specific interests.
For instance, when you segment your list into new and existing guests, you can send out newsletters to existing customers with special deals if they book another stay. And for your new guests, emailing them information about the hotel, what you offer, and nice attractions nearby is a great way to welcome them for the first time.
When it comes to the technical side of things, obtaining this kind of information about your customers doesn’t need to be very complex. Take a look at this form from Booking.com that casually asks if you’re traveling for work.
Having asked that question in the subscription process, you can move onto your email tool and use that information to tailor your campaigns and segment your audience.
Here’s how you’d set up a segment with a tool like GetResponse. All you need to do is provide the conditions, like the email list and the time period you’re interested in, and you’ll see the list of people that meet these criteria.
Then, just hit save and you’ll be able to start targeting this specific group of customers with a more personalized communication.
Pro tip: Never segmented an email list before? Check out this in-depth segmentation guide on how to get started!
3. Send personalized reminder emails using email automation
Hotel customers are notorious for abandoning their bookings, so making them feel welcome and personalizing any communication you have with them goes a long way in making them stick around.
Studies show that cart abandonment rates in the travel industry sit at a whopping 81%, which is higher than in the retail industry. However, the study also found that if you re-engage with the customer within 60 minutes, there’s a good chance you can win their booking back.
Sending out personalized, targeted emails is one of the best ways to do this. It makes your hotel guests feel appreciated and, if they do end up staying, allows you to send targeted post-stay emails to sell other experiences you provide and entice them to come back.
For example, if you have segmented hotel guests who have stayed with you before on weekends, personalize your emails to include information about short break specials.
Or, for past guests who booked your most expensive rooms, you can send them emails including information about five-star restaurants near your hotel to match their tastes.
Note: Some marketers choose to only personalize their email subject lines to speed up the email campaign development time. This is a good tactic, but our data shows that personalizing the email body brings in even better results.
Check out this personalized email campaign from Suiteness:
Not only is it focused on staycations, but it also has personalized recommendations about room choices and tips for when a guest checks in from the concierge.
You can send out promotional emails like this with personalization by using a tool like GetResponse. The Email Creator allows you to create templates and add in your guests’ names automatically using a tactic called “merge words.”
For example, [[email]] will display your guest’s email address, while [[name]] will show their full name when they receive the email. This tactic is handy for everything from reminding your customers how much they enjoyed a previous spa treatment to sending out a personalized invite to a new hotel opening:
You can also personalize communications even further by adding tags to your email list (like couples, seniors, romantic getaway, business) so any email you send to them is perfectly suited to their lifestyle and travel needs.
4. Run email marketing campaigns sharing discounts and special offers
Offering customers special offers, loyalty programs, and discounts on their stay is one of the best ways to entice them into signing up for your email list and even making a booking.
They work because offers and discounts are only available for a short amount of time, which gives them a sense of urgency because they will miss out if they don’t book now.
You can offer discounts randomly and set a time limit (book now for 20% off your stay, five days only!), or target special offers for holidays like Valentine’s Day or Thanksgiving. Check out this email marketing campaign by Premier Inn for Halloween:
Everything from the images to the copy (Spooktacular!) reminds the guest that this offer is for Halloween, so they only have a short time frame to take advantage.
And if you want to send even more targeted communication you could automatically send a last-minute reminder email to those who opened your first email but haven’t booked a room yet.
Pro-tip: You can increase the number of bookings you get from a promotional newsletter like this by including reviews from previous guests. Studies show most guests still check online reviews prior to booking a hotel, so including your reviews in promotional emails can work wonders in getting them to complete their booking!
5. Set up transactional emails
No hotel company has the time to manually email every guest about their upcoming stay. That’s what transactional emails were built for.
Despite their name, transactional emails aren’t always about transactions or payments. These are just more sophisticated automated campaigns that contain highly-personalized information.
Here are some examples of transactional emails you’d expect to receive from a hotel company:
- Booking confirmation email
- Receipt and payment confirmation email
- Pre-arrival emails with key information about the stay
- Pre-arrival emails with local recommendations
- Post-stay review emails
- Monthly loyalty program update
- Annual post-stay reminder
- Birthday special discount emails
- Last-minute room upgrade offer
- Card expiration email
The best thing about transactional emails (other than the fact that they save you time) is that your audience expects to receive them. And because your hotel guests expect them, they also engage with them heavily – which is why they’re great for revenue and improving your email deliverability.
As an inspiration, check out this great confirmation email from Airbnb that checks all the boxes and provides key information about the upcoming stay:
Now how do you set these kinds of emails up? They’re slightly more complicated than newsletters or email blasts because they’re based on “events” and need to be synced with your booking system. That said, if you’re using a tool like GetResponse to send transactional emails, you also can count on additional guidance and help from the experts.
6. Track your hotel email marketing ROI
Finally, you need to be tracking your email marketing efforts to see what’s working — and what’s not.
While the opening rates we mentioned earlier are important, it’s your email conversion rates that matter the most. You need to know how many people are clicking your call-to-action buttons and ultimately booking a room at your hotel.
If you use an email marketing tool like GetResponse, this is an easy task. You can track every aspect of your email marketing efforts with detailed analytics, e.g.:
- How many new subscribers joined your mailing list this week
- How many people opened or clicked in your last newsletter
- What devices are your subscribers using to open your newsletters
- Which subject lines brought you the most opens
- Which offers brought you the highest number of conversions
And if you integrate the tool with your analytics tool, like Google Analytics, you’ll also be able to see more revenue-focused metrics, such as the total number of conversions generated, average revenue per email sent, or the return on any given email campaign.
And if you want to optimize your campaigns even further (and get more guests to book rooms with you) you can use GetResponse to:
- Test email campaigns before you send them out
- A/B test subject lines and email copy to see what generates better open rates and click-through rates
- Measure results with detailed reports and graphs
- Optimize your newsletter send-time to deliver your messages according to your subscriber’s time-zone or behavior
The more data you have from your email campaigns, the more you can optimize your campaigns to include the most successful elements from previous campaigns.
Solid email marketing campaigns can boost revenue for your hotel business
Enticing new and existing guests to book a room at your hotel can be a challenging task, but with an email marketing plan — you can do just that.
Emails are a perfect way to talk directly to your guests, whether it’s offering them information about your hotel, telling them about local attractions, or offering discounts on their stay.
With the right tools, you can even automate these emails, so guests know their check-in times and your hotel’s location as soon as they book, giving them peace of mind. And because you can segment your audience, there’s an even better chance you can 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 customers to your hotel!