When it comes to email marketing, most people naturally assume that this method of outreach is exclusively relegated to the toolbox of online retailers who specialize in consumer goods. While there’s no denying that these retailers can definitely make good use of the potential found within the inbox, why can’t the hospitality industry – specifically hotels – also claim a share of this valuable email marketing pie? To help get you off on the right foot as your explore this outreach method, let’s spend some time talking about how those who operate within this industry can craft a smart – and successful – email marketing strategy.
Discussing the Value of Email Marketing
Before getting into the particulars of how to win in the inbox, it’s a good idea to start by discussing the value of email marketing as it pertains to the hospitality industry. According to Hospitality Net’s Shawn Williams, it all starts with capturing the lost potential of wayward site visitors.
Specifically, if your average booking rate sits at 1.5 percent, then Williams explains that 98.5 percent of your site’s traffic leaves without reserving a room. Even the most basic of email capture strategies garner opt-in rates between two and 10 percent, leading to an interaction with up to six times as many potential customers.
Going a step deeper, Williams also points out that visitors scour booking listings and hotel information for weeks in advance, leading to a protracted reservation process. The deciding consideration when the time comes to make a booking often boils down not just to price, but also value – hotel options, amenities, nearby locations, etc. In terms of elaborating on these valuable factors, what better way to accomplish this goal than by sending off value-driven emails that educate and inform contact list members?
Laying out the Blueprint for Your Strategy
So now that we’ve covered why email marketing matters to the hospitality industry, it’s time to go a step further and build an approach that truly captures the attention – and business – of your target audience. As Julia McCoy of Marketing Profs explains, your best bet is to focus on creating a personal connection before hitting these viewers with a sales pitch.
The best email marketing campaigns aim to relate to inbox readers, so try to go this route if possible. Covering honeymoon ideas in your area, seasonal events or happenings, and even simply taking some time to thank these contact list members for their continued support are all signs of a strong interpersonal approach. The big key here is to speak to these viewers from a conversational perspective – often via personalized content that utilizes contact list information – and then slowly build into recapturing lost sales via time sensitive deals and discounts.
Another strong practice that should serve as a pillar of your inbox initiative comes in the form of triggered email content. Much like reaching out to customers in the face of an abandoned online shopping cart, hotels can trigger specific content based on a consumer’s activity that occurs on site. From offering up advice and insight based on the timeframes or locations reviewed by the visitor, to enacting “last chance” booking offers for repeat visitors, utilizing the power of triggered messages is one of the best ways to leverage the power found within email marketing.
Finally, if you’re new to the ins and outs of marketing in the inbox, it’s imperative that your organization play by the rules. Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) and other regionally relevant regulations forbid certain practices and dish out hefty penalties and fines to offenders, so taking some time to brush up on what’s allowed and what’s not is vital to the continued success of your campaign.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to hit on the following points to at least stay on the right side of CASL compliance:
- Acquire express consent from all contact list members.
- Clearly describe the purpose of your email marketing operations, as well as what comes with joining your audience.
- Incorporate transparent and readily available unsubscribe mechanisms in each and every email.
- Process these unsubscribe requests within a maximum of 10 days.
It seems like a lot to keep track of initially, but carefully reading over CASL parameters – which you can find here in our CASL Survival Guide – and aligning yourself with a team of trusted email marketing professionals makes this process significantly more manageable.
At the end of the day, tapping into the power of email marketing as a business within the hospitality industry requires a significant amount of work. However, if you’re able to take what you’ve learned here and start laying the foundation for a successful incursion into the inbox, it won’t be long before your organization truly maximizes its online booking and reservation opportunities.