6 Tips For Travel Brands To Maximize Email Success

Here are six email mar­ket­ing tips for trav­el and hos­pi­tal­i­ty mar­keters that have proven to engage cus­tomers, dri­ve ROI, and build a loy­al fan base.

Adam Stambleck By Adam Stambleck from Movable Ink. Join the discussion » 0 comments

To suc­ceed in the trav­el indus­try, you need to keep your cus­tomers hap­py and engaged through­out their expe­ri­ence: from that first email touch­point, through book­ing their first trip, even as they’re post­ing glow­ing reviews about your com­pa­ny. There are many fac­tors that con­tribute to a suc­cess­ful trav­el cam­paign, and tech­nol­o­gy con­tin­ues to raise con­sumer expec­ta­tions. Today, a suc­cess­ful email cam­paign requires per­son­al­ized, con­tex­tu­al mes­sag­ing and offers.

Email mar­ket­ing has entered a new era of inno­va­tion, allow­ing the trav­el and hos­pi­tal­i­ty indus­try to reach con­sumers with high­ly per­son­al­ized and dynam­ic expe­ri­ences like nev­er before. In terms of email ROI, the trav­el indus­try leads the pack. Accord­ing to a 2015 study from Sil­ver­pop, the trav­el and hos­pi­tal­i­ty indus­try has a 56.7 per­cent email open rate — the high­est among the 17 indus­tries includ­ed in the study — and comes in sec­ond for click-through rates at 15.2 per­cent. This is great news for the trav­el mar­keter, but it’s only the begin­ning when you’re try­ing to grow a loy­al fan base. Here are six email mar­ket­ing tips for trav­el and hos­pi­tal­i­ty mar­keters that have proven to engage cus­tomers, dri­ve ROI, and build a loy­al fan base.

1. Think Mobile, But Don’t Forget About Desktop

There’s no ques­tion that this is the mobile age. Mobile opti­miza­tion should con­tin­ue to be a pri­or­i­ty for mar­keters. How­ev­er, although we see more and more con­sumers in gen­er­al engag­ing with email on mobile devices, desk­top still remains an impor­tant fac­tor to con­sid­er for trav­el and hos­pi­tal­i­ty brands. Many trav­el indus­try email opens and con­ver­sions still hap­pen on a desk­top — 39 per­cent and 69 per­cent respec­tive­ly in 2015, based on our analy­sis.

2. Use Data To Take Personalization To The Next Level

You can engage your audi­ence effec­tive­ly by using con­sumer data to pre­cise­ly tar­get audi­ences and per­son­al­ize mes­sag­ing. While tar­get­ing audi­ence seg­ments with rel­e­vant mes­sag­ing has always been a pri­or­i­ty for most mar­keters, using data to per­son­al­ize email mes­sag­ing and offers takes engage­ment to the next lev­el. Con­sid­er incor­po­rat­ing per­son­al­ized mes­sag­ing about your cus­tomers’ pre­vi­ous trips, loy­al­ty points, and more. While basic forms of per­son­al­iza­tion such as incor­po­rat­ing the recipient’s name into the email image and body copy are a good start, also think about more advanced tac­tics like geo­tar­get­ing to offer the near­est busi­ness loca­tion. The pay­off? Accord­ing to Exper­ian, per­son­al­ized emails have 29 per­cent high­er unique open rates and 41 per­cent high­er unique click rates than non-per­son­al­ized emails. Tru­ly per­son­al­ized emails require accu­rate, up-to-date data on your sub­scribers. Col­lect­ing that data can be a chal­lenge. User pref­er­ence cen­ters often have low par­tic­i­pa­tion rates, and the more fields a form has, the less like­ly cus­tomers will com­plete it. As a mat­ter of fact, accord­ing to Quick­Sprout, increas­ing the num­ber of options in your form fields from three to six can decrease con­ver­sion rates by 66 per­cent. Pro­gres­sive pro­fil­ing is a form of gam­i­fi­ca­tion using polls to con­tin­u­ous­ly col­lect deep­er insights about a con­sumer, while cre­at­ing an engag­ing, inter­ac­tive email expe­ri­ence that encour­ages sub­scribers to par­tic­i­pate. And it works. Accord­ing to M2 Research, gam­i­fi­ca­tion can lead to a 100 to 150 per­cent increase in engage­ment. Giv­ing cus­tomers an oppor­tu­ni­ty to vote for their favorite des­ti­na­tions, or oth­er trav­el pref­er­ences, right in the email, allows you to use that data to send rel­e­vant offers that they’re more like­ly to act on. Phrase your poll ques­tions in a way that will elic­it a more emo­tion­al response. For exam­ple, ask what fam­i­ly des­ti­na­tion their chil­dren or grand­chil­dren would most enjoy vis­it­ing.

3. Make Deals Relevant With Weather Targeting

Weath­er tar­get­ing can increase CTRs by 39 per­cent. The more rel­e­vant the offer is to your cus­tomers at the moment of open, the more like­ly they are to click-through and con­vert. You can use weath­er tar­get­ing to include real-time weath­er at the recipient’s loca­tion — wher­ev­er they open your email — and give them a peek at the weath­er con­di­tions at one of your trop­i­cal des­ti­na­tions. For instance, aim to entice con­sumers in cold weath­er loca­tions with a trip to a trop­i­cal par­adise by help­ing them envi­sion the expe­ri­ence, or tar­get skiers by show­ing them that fresh pow­der awaits at their favorite resort. As an added touch, you can use ani­mat­ed GIFs — like falling snow or a sparkling ocean — to bring eye-catch­ing visu­al ele­ments to des­ti­na­tion images.

4. Build A Sense Of Excitement To Drive Action

Offer count­down timers to inspire a sense of urgency and excite­ment to dri­ve book­ings. One way to do this is to incor­po­rate a deal timer/countdown clock into emails so recip­i­ents can keep track of how much time they have left to act on a lim­it­ed-time offer. While cre­at­ing a sense of urgency for a spe­cif­ic deal is a good way to spur action, avoid cus­tomer frus­tra­tion by always offer­ing an active cam­paign at the time the con­sumer opens the email. When a deal expires, swap it out with your next deal, or a link to book a com­pa­ra­ble trip, giv­ing con­sumers anoth­er option to con­vert.

5. Create Seamless Experiences With Real-Time Inventory

You can make book­ing eas­i­er for cus­tomers by using web crop­ping to offer real time, inter­ac­tive reser­va­tion ser­vices right in an email. Web crop­ping imports real-time web­site con­tent into your emails ensur­ing cus­tomers always see your fresh­est con­tent — every time they open the email. Use real-time inven­to­ry to incen­tivize an upgrade. For exam­ple, pro­vide addi­tion­al air­line seat or hotel room options based on the reser­va­tion they already made by pro­vid­ing live inven­to­ry that refresh­es each time the cus­tomer goes back into the con­fir­ma­tion email. Web crop­ping also cre­ates effi­cien­cies and boosts ROI by sav­ing time on email pro­duc­tion. This is because it pulls in con­tent that’s already been cre­at­ed and approve and that updates auto­mat­i­cal­ly in the email every time you update your web­site.

6. Harness The Power Of Social To Drive Sales

Social media dri­ves sales. In fact, 62 per­cent of con­sumers say social media inter­ac­tions dri­ves them to buy more in most or some cas­es, accord­ing to PwC. Incor­po­rat­ing social into your email cam­paigns can help you lever­age the pow­er of social in two ways:

  • Cre­at­ing an engaged social com­mu­ni­ty: Cre­ate an oppor­tu­ni­ty for con­sumers to come togeth­er to expe­ri­ence your brand. Pull in a live social feed from your Insta­gram account so recip­i­ents can see, and share, the lat­est, excit­ing trav­el accom­mo­da­tions you offer. Social images of vaca­tion des­ti­na­tions are visu­al­ly engag­ing and authen­tic.
  • Let­ting your fans share their pos­i­tive expe­ri­ences: The trav­el indus­try is often dri­ven by rep­u­ta­tion. Cus­tomer feed­back and reviews can make or break your busi­ness so let your fans ampli­fy your mes­sage. Incor­po­rate live social feeds into your emails and let your hap­py cus­tomers do the talk­ing for you. Offer an incen­tive — like a chance to win a free trip or accu­mu­late trav­el points — for them to share their love for your busi­ness on Insta­gram or Twit­ter.
Adam Stambleck

Written by Adam Stambleck

Vice President, Client Experience, Movable Ink

Adam works with the world's leading brands to understand their goals and drive results-focused digital marketing programs. With more than a decade of direct and interactive marketing experience, he ensures that every client succeeds in his role as VP of Client Experience. Prior to joining Movable Ink, Adam was vice president of client services at Yesmail Interactive and associate director of client services at Paradysz.

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