Everyone knows: communication is key. Email marketing for hotels may come to mind when you think of hospitality email marketing, but it’s not just big corporate businesses that need to send out strategic lifecycle emails. This is important regardless of what type of business you have, boutique hotel, bed and breakfast or vacation rental.
It’s vital for your business that you’re messaging guests throughout all of the stages of the traveler lifecycle. This lifecycle is made up of five distinct phases: dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing and sharing. Each stage is unique and possesses its own benefits and hurdles along the way. But one thing is certain, there are plenty of opportunities for marketing your business and email is the perfect place to start.
Email has become second nature for people as a direct line of contact. It’s no longer optional. In fact, it’s expected. And there are plenty of reasons why you should get on board:
- It’s incredibly affordable
- It is easy to set up and send out
- Best of all, it has a great return on investment.
Let’s get started!
Hospitality Email Marketing Basics
There are a few rules and best practices to follow. You’re going to want to ensure you’re following all the rules for CAN-SPAM for any marketing-related emails. You can read the full details on the FTC website, but here’s a quick summary of it:
- Be clear and forthcoming with the information you’re providing and what it entails. No tricky wording, bait and switches, or purposefully misleading information.
- Include your contact details with your business name and address, so people know who is sending the email.
- Provide an unsubscribe button in the email and ensure it works.
Pretty easy, right? For transactional emails, you don’t need to provide an unsubscribe link. As these emails are used to relay important information regarding completed transactions like booking confirmations or upcoming stay reminders and should always be delivered to their intended destination.
Now that you’re sold on becoming an email marketer, the next step is building your list. You can start by compiling all your past guests and upcoming guests. And you can add an email signup widget to your website to capture new leads who may have never stayed with you, but would like to stay in contact and learn more about upcoming promotions or events.
Since we are all set up with the basics, we need to start developing emails that help drive bookings. Let’s look at the traveler lifecycle for ideas on what kind of emails we should create to drive a high ROI.
Phase 1: Dreaming – Sell the Whole Experience
Dreaming, wanderlust, travel inspo, whatever the turn of phrase, it all boils down to planning your next escape from the drudgery of your 9-to-5. When people are in the dreaming phase, now’s the time to sell your business and your destination. Take inspiration from Lumiere the Candelabra and really sell it: Be Our Guest!
In regards to hospitality email marketing, this could be a newsletter to past or potential guests! Showcase all of your cities best attractions and events, and highlight your property’s best features and amenities. Your property’s best features could vary wildly: an Olympic pool, on-site hiking trails, famous blueberry pancakes, or your three pugs Larry, Curly and Moe that welcome guests upon arrival.
Whatever the feature, it’s important to remember that people are drawn to experiences. So be authentic and showcase yourself.
Phase 2: Planning – Capture Prospective Guests’ Attention
During the planning phase, someone has their dates and destination picked out but needs to nail down all the details. You may have already won someone over with your dreamy, Instagram-worthy property, yay! But others may be looking for the best value, the closest location to downtown, or a room with a Jacuzzi soaking tub.
You should rely on your listing to sell your property and should have an expansive reach to cast a wide net. Email isn’t the primary channel for when travelers are researching their options, but you can convert your existing subscribers to guests with marketing emails that feature promotions like limited-time lower rates, seasonal specials or free upgrades.
Phase 3: Booking – Put Your Best Foot Forward
Now that you’ve gotten a booking, you want to put your best foot forward with a welcome series. Remember when we said even though you may think of automated email marketing for hotels as being overkill?
Throw that out the window! Now is the time to make sure you have an automated email series that will allow you to create triggered marketing emails based on a milestone. A welcome series will serve to inform and stay in contact with your upcoming guest from booking on. Your series could look something like the following:
- Upon confirmation
- A month away from arrival
- A week before arrival
- The day of arrival
- The day of check-out
These emails are set up to begin a repertoire with your upcoming guest and set the tone for their upcoming stay. This is simple and easy to do with eviivo Guest Manager, which allows you to design beautiful emails, easily set-up triggered emails and manage your guest profiles all in one place.
Phase 4: Experiencing – Improve the Guest Experience
While Experiencing relies heavily on the guest, you can still make an impact on guest experience through hospitality email marketing. Even though your welcome series is part of Phase 3: Booking, the day of arrival email can be included the Phase 4: Experiencing, as it pertains to a guest’s on-site experience.
In this email, you should include all of the pertinent information in regards to ease of arrival. This may include check-in details, parking information or even traffic tips, or more personal suggestions like recommendations or insider tips. Have a great relationship with another local business that you get commissions for referrals? Use it here! Let guests know to be sure to buy tickets to theater shows in advance because they sell out early, see if you can make them a reservation to dine at your favorite place or just that the place five minutes away has reverse happy hour tonight! These thoughtful suggestions can elevate a guest’s stay from good to great!
Phase 5: Sharing – A Pivotal Point in Your Hospitality Email Marketing
After your guest has stayed, their journey with you isn’t over. In fact, this is a crucial component for you in the traveler lifecycle. This is what you’ve been building up to. Consider it the crux of your hospitality email marketing! You’ve delivered a stellar guest experience, now is the time to capture your guest reviews. You can start generating garnering reviews by setting up a triggered email to go out after a guest’s check-out date for a post-stay review request. A whopping 99% of travelers read reviews before making a booking, which means that every review is critical in improving consumer confidence in deciding to book their stay with you.
Now that you’ve gone through the traveler journey, it’s time to rinse and repeat! The traveler lifecycle is cyclical, everyone can be a future guest. As you continue sending emails and building relationships, you can gather additional information such as recurring dates, birthdays or anniversaries to send tailored communications to your guests, all of which is easy to manage in Guest Manager. Or continue to drive customer loyalty with referrals or loyalty programs!
Now that you’re equipped with how to leverage hospitality email marketing throughout the traveler lifecycle, you’re well on your way to being an email marketing pro!