E-mail continues to be a very popular and effective means of reaching travellers. Typically they can take on two formats depending on your audience mix this may vary between an editorial format or promotional. Typically hotels tend to go all out with promotional e-mails. However, it is important to find a good balance between pushy “Buy Now” messages and informing, educating and entertaining the audience.
Editorial e-mails inform and educate subscribers about your hotel, its location, experiences at destination among other information. Promotional e-mail promoting offers and packages with a discount or value offer. Ideally, hotels should run a mix of both promotional and editorial emails.
With the objective defined, the next thing you need to do is plan your email marketing toolkit. You will need the following:
You can develop your database of email addresses over time. Email ids can be obtained from:
- Online sign-up forms for newsletters or similar to collect new contacts (tools like Active Campaign and Aweber are popular as well as easy to use)
- Data capture sheets from exhibitions, meetings and networking events
- Participants in online competitions
- Business cards collected offline at the reception or similar
You can build up information about individuals over time. Consider asking for the essential data only (name and e-mail address) to start with and then building on this over time. People are often very protective of their personal information until you have built up their trust. You can use the thank you pages on your website to collect additional data.
Opt-in and permission-based data collection is critical. In many countries especially in Europe, there are strict regulations around data gathering, storage, management and use. In other countries even if the law is not as strict, it is best practice to follow permission-based marketing as it is then a relationship based on mutual acceptance and trust.
E-mail Campaign Management
With the understanding that the data gathered is in an email marketing software like Active Campaign, then you can start planning the next steps.
Your web design agency may be able to help you with this or you could have a specialist e-mail marketing agency to set this up. Any template designed outside of these e-mail campaign management systems should be checked to ensure that it displays correctly on different e-mail clients like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook to name a few. Equally, it needs to work on mobile. You will also need to consider how your design will complement your website and other offline marketing materials.
Most email marketing software will deliver your emails in addition to helping you design and track. Email delivery software providers simplify the process of emailing several people on the subscribers’ list. They also automate the unsubscribe process to protect you from accidentally sending to these people again.
Remember that you are legally required to provide an unsubscribe process.
E-mail marketing automation
E-mail marketing automation has become increasingly sophisticated and as a hotel, you are able to increasingly personalise and customise the e-mails that are going out from your hotel. Automation also allows certain website behaviours to be responded to for eg: if a guest clicked on a promotional offer but did not book, you will be able to identify all contacts who displayed a similar behaviour and e-mail them a follow up after a pre-set interval.
An email delivery provider, like MailChimp or NewZapp, can also add a forward tool to your email designs. This will help you increase your database through viral marketing. If you are designing your own forward tool, allow the friend to add a personal message to the email before you forward it. This helps personalise the message for the new recipient and explain why they have received the email. Also, consider adding the option to sign-up to your email database.