Email Marketing for Hotels: Basic Principles, Practical Advice and Best Examples
Personal connections and strong relationships with guests are what matters the most for such business as hotel. Convenient booking, pre-arrival support, friendly welcome, fast check-in, pleasant stay, 24/7 customer service, smooth check out, post-stay feedback – every action of a hotelier should aim to provide the most satisfying experience.
This very approach should apply to offline communication as well. Your guests remain your customers even when they’re not on property, and your task is to assure comfort at every stage of the conversation with your brand.
And an effective email marketing strategy is one of the proven ways to reach this goal. Why?
Why Hotels Need Email Marketing
- To attract new prospects. Newsletters and promo emails can tell a lot about your company, outline the benefits and emphasize advantages.
- To retain old customers. Post-purchase support, loyalty programs, surveys, seasonal sales – email is a universal channel to run any communication activity.
- To drive traffic. A specific landing page, web page, blog post – emails can encourage people to take a look at the material you want to promote at the moment.
- To take full advantage of customer data. Due to the peculiarities of the service, the hotel industry belongs to a few that enjoy extensive customer info. This a gold mine for marketers that enables more precise segmentation of the contact base.
- To deliver personalized content. When managed correctly, customer info can help create more targeted campaigns and relevant offers that would generate a bigger response and more profit.
- To promote new services. People don’t check your website on a regular basis to see if you’re up to something new. A monthly newsletter with the recent news and deals would put the best offers in front.
- To receive faster feedback. Customers are more eager to receive feedback for the services that involve personal human interaction. For example, restaurants, hotels and beauty studios are more likely to get a review than a software company or car dealer center. And email is the most convenient way to leave one, especially if you employ the AMP technology (which enables leaving comments and reviews straight in the email body).
- To strengthen brand positioning. Regular email campaigns help keep your brand on people’s radar screen: visibility is important to remain top of mind even for people that aren’t currently your guests. But when it’s time to pick their next destination, the brand-centric campaigns would help make the booking in favor of your place.
- To boost loyalty. Great communication before the arrival, during the stay and after the departure turns customers first into repeat customers and then into a loyal audience.
- To produce measurable results. Unlike other channels, email provides instant info for analytics. Opens, clicks and a click-to-open rate are the first things to show if you’re moving in the right direction.
Types of Email Campaigns for Hotel Marketing
Whatever email strategy you’re currently sticking to or planning ahead, your campaigns are (or will be) divided into two types:
- triggered (automated);
- bulk (one-time).
Triggered campaigns are emails that are triggered (sent in response to) by particular customer’s actions or behavior. They are included in a workflow and run automatically with only rare adjustments on a marketer’s part. Automated campaign examples include:
- subscription confirmation (triggered by subscription/registration);
- welcome email (triggered by subscription confirmation);
- pre-arrival (triggered by booking);
- on-property welcome (triggered by arrival);
- win-back offer (triggered by longtime inactivity);
- birthday promo (triggered several days before or on the birthday), etc.
The list goes on and depends only on your particular business marketing strategy. Thanks to their long lifetime, automated campaigns can be run for months and require only periodic updates. At the same time, they generate high open rates because they are the result of the users’ certain actions, and people are typically expect (and want) to see them in the Inbox.
The following workflow, built in the eSputnik system, includes three triggered emails and two web pushes, but you can add as many messages in different channels (Email, Web Push, Mob Push, Viber) with as many actions and conditions.
Bulk campaigns are the most common types of emails used by any business that serve to turn a subscriber into a customer. They are typically sent to the entire database, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be personalized. Thanks to advanced segmentation, dynamic content and AI algorithms you can fill up recommendation blocks in promotions with relevant offers based on the subscriber’s browsing behavior and click history. Bulk email examples include:
- blog newsletters;
- promo campaigns;
- price alerts;
- flash sales;
- seasonal offers;
- news and updates, etc.
To lead a customer through every stage of the interaction with your brand, you need to team up both these types and provide constant informational support.
Promote your hotel with automated emails
Email Marketing Examples by Guest Lifecycle
The guest lifecycle consists of the following stages: selection, booking, pre-arrival, stay, and post-stay.
And each stage has its own tasks which require an individual mix of automated and bulk campaigns:
1. Selection (inspire new trips and journeys, encourage prospects and customers to favor your place):
- social proof and media coverage;
- booking anniversary;
- seasonal discounts;
- loyalty programs;
- birthday gifts;
- we miss you email.
The selection stage also presupposes significant research: people look for more information, study online reviews and feedback, compare prices on the website and online travel agencies, check social media. To perform their best, your selection and research-related emails should be integrated into the overall omnichannel strategy and work together with other communication channels.
2. Booking (provide all the information concerning the reservation):
- booking/payment confirmation;
- reservation information;
- reservation management.
This phase should be as informative and crisp – scannable accurate staying details in numbers (price, date, room numbers, check in, check out, etc.) with limited text.
3. Pre-arrival (stimulate enthusiasm and drive upsells);
- on-property amenities promotion;
- room upgrade;
- additional services;
- location activities.
Feel free to send multiple pre-arrival emails, especially if the booking window is long. Offer services, give people time to consider and then send one more upsell just before arrival.
4. Stay (keep guests aware of important on-site announcements):
- welcome email;
- service contact information;
- on-site closures;
- working hours;
- planned fire alarms/repairs/maintenance.
By indicating the services, contacts and those responsible for guests’ comfort you give people options in case there happen any inconveniences. The faster they solve it, the fewer negative reviews you’ll have.
5. Post-stay (check out if the guests enjoyed their stay):
- thank you email;
- social media share.
You don’t necessarily have to send each of these campaigns. Set up the strategy that would meet your business goals and revise it on a regular basis to see how effective it is and make necessary improvements, if needed.
300+ free templates for any email type
Content & Design Ideas for Hotel Email Marketing
Now let’s move to the creative part. As you hopefully understand, planning and scheduling are important, but the inside of your emails matters as much.
People like to receive relevant and profitable offers, but they also like to be entertained. So your task is to provide both useful info and fun to make them click the email when seeing your sender name in the Inbox. How to achieve it?
1. Write a good subject line.
Technically not included in the copy itself, a subject line is one of the most important elements of the email campaign that determines its success to a great extent.
A good subject line is short, clear and to the point: it manages to convey the message inside within one sentence and doesn’t contain misleading info. After reading the subject line, people should know what to expect in the copy, and the content should meet these expectations.
Don’t promise sales or rewards when sending a blog newsletter. The magical word “gift” can prompt an open, but if there’s none inside, people would get confused and disappointed, and your next campaign would most likely be ignored.
And to get more practical, these are the email subject lines by hotels we’ve recently found in our inboxes:
- Where would you like to go? ✈ (Outrigger Hotels and Resorts);
- Plan A Getaway That Makes The Grade (Couples Resorts);
- Chance to win £100 Amazon gift card (Amba Hotels);
- A suite idea for your next stay in Bengaluru (Oberoi Hotels & Resorts);
- We are proud to announce our prestigious Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star ratings (Red Carnation Hotels);
- This winter the beach is calling (Auberge Resorts Collection);
- Create Lasting Memories in Alluring Settings (Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts);
- Tales from the Wild – 13 February, 2020 (Londlozi);
- Spring is the perfect time to escape to the beach! (La Jolla Shores Hotel);
- Let paradise find you. ☀(Outrigger Hotels and Resorts);
- Love is in the air at Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa (Oetker Collection);
- Plan your first adventure of the New Year (FRHI Hotels & Resorts);
- ☀️ Holiday the January Blues away with… (Caribbean Warehouse);
- Save up to 30% on inspiring Scottish escapes (Crerar Hotels);
- Book now to secure best rate (Britannia Hotels);
- PLAN AHEAD: 2020 Spring/Summer Events Calendar (Tablet Hotels);
- Will You Be Our Valentine? (AX Hotels);
- It's there and then it's gone. POOF ✨(Crieff Hydro Hotel & Resort);
- NEW: Save 55% on our Spa day voucher (QHotels).
Answer yourself which would rather make you open the email; this would help you move in the right direction.
2. Send a welcome email.
To set a good start, greet new members of your family with a welcome email. It’s a digital equivalent of saying “Hello” to a new person, so don’t neglect it. Short or long, text-based or rich in images, a welcome message lets people know they’ve successfully accomplished the subscription process, and you’re happy to have them on board.
Moreover, welcome emails have the biggest open rate (88.3%), which may be of great use when you only start with email marketing automation. The active response contributes to your sender reputation, indicating email clients that you’re trustworthy and people want your content. And the better your sender reputation, the better the email deliverability.
3. Let subscribers set preferences.
Ask people about their interests to deliver value in every message. This is especially important if you have a basic subscription form that doesn’t presuppose preference management.
The more you know about your subscribers, the better you’ll be able to segment the contact base and, as a result, send more meaningful and personalized emails.
4. Include “delicious” images.
The image you use to describe your place shouldn’t be just a picture of the hotel building. Visual elements need to complement the value of the message. Clear water and sand, original room interior, tasty food, friendly staff, interesting outdoor activities – let the images emphasize your main advantages.
5. Add a rollover effect.
A rollover effect enables fill an image block with two images for a better display. They interchange when being hovered over and let demonstrate the place from different angles or at different day time (day vs. night).
6. Add a video.
Today, drones with good cameras enable to make a great aerial look-over of your location without expensive equipment. Show the spot that uncovers your hotel personality and demonstrates its best advantages. Make a video report from the kitchen or introduce exciting activities people can enjoy nowhere else.
7. Add a Countdown Timer.
A countdown timer is a good tool to create urgency and speed up the decision-making process. However, mind that hotel booking needs more time for consideration than, for example, buying a t-shirt. So make sure you give people enough time to consider the offer.
8. Tell about your achievements.
The anniversary, rewards, nominations, charity programs – don’t keep silent of your milestones. Don’t be afraid of looking boastful – this information can have people make a choice.
9. Run a survey.
Your guests are the only ones who can give the most honest and true review of the service. Yes, not all feedback may be objective, but a certain pattern typical of most reviews definitely deserves your attention and further investigation.
10. Use additional channels.
To create a seamless guest experience, empower emails with all the communication channels your business runs. Web Push, Mobile Push, or Social Media will help deliver personalized offers to the part of your audience who aren’t your email subscribers.
AMP for Email for Hotel Digital Marketing
We’ve already mentioned the word above, but this technology deserves special attention as its benefits for hoteliers are numerous.
We’re not going to get technical here; if you feel like diving deeper, see this article for more tech details about AMP or download our free report with two extensive sections dedicated to the AMP technology. Below, we’ll explain benefits of AMP-powered email marketing and why this functionality is huge for hotels in particular.
AMP for emails enables a user to take a certain action within the email body – RSVP to an event, leave a comment, make a booking – without downloading new pages. Moreover, such AMP-supported elements like carousel and accordion allows to include way more information and images in one message without affecting its length.
The below design by our friends from Stripo gives the idea of how it looks in practice:
How can AMP benefit your email marketing campaigns?
- Provide more text and visuals in a space-smart way. One image is often not enough to show off the room or location. An AMP carousel enables to include as many views to give people the best idea of what they’re going to book. Plus, you can add all the necessary info (type of rooms, facilities, available dates, price) without making the message too long.
- Hide unnecessary options. Now your recipients don’t need to scroll through other descriptions and can switch straight to the variant they’re most interested in at the moment.
- Provide relevant information. An AMP list allows to upload the information relevant at the moment of the open. People may open the email several days after the delivery or return to it later, but whenever the open time, they’d see only valid offers (for example, available vs. unavailable dates).
- Drive direct bookings. To compete with online travel agencies and avoid paying commission fees, the AMP email enables to complete booking straight in the email. People don’t get lost between your offer and new tabs and windows.
- Provide a feedback option. A post-stay feedback can be left straight in the email, which is really convenient, and nowadays convenience sells.
- Add convenience. This is the embodiment of the above functionality and AMPs main advantage. The email interaction gets easier and faster, doesn’t require extra movements and helps complete many target actions within the email body.
Since January 2020, the technology is also supported on mobiles. And it’s key for a nowadays hotel email marketing as up to 75% of users read emails from gadgets.
Note that you need to register with Google as a dynamic sender to send AMP-supported campaigns. And once you’ve done it, give the technology a try in our system. At the moment, eSputnik offers two AMP blocks - carousel and accordion - but more are coming. We also have 6 ready-made AMP templates which you can use and edit for your own needs.
AMP emails for hotels
Best Email Examples for Hotel Marketing
Now let’s see how different hotels and resorts have put the above techniques into practice. Don’t try to mimic their style or design; just note the most effective methods and approaches and think whether they can be adapted for your email campaigns.
The power of the hotel industry is in hospitality and high-quality customer communication. Apply this approach to your email marketing strategy as well. Your emails should be friendly, professional, easy-to-scan and pleasant to the eye.
Try to forecast guests’ wishes with every message, and people would be returning to your place for the comfort and convenience.