When you think of digital marketing techniques, what comes to mind first? PPC ads? Social media? Guest blogging? Those are important elements, certainly. However, hotel email marketing should be at the top of the list.
Why does such an old marketing method deserve such a place of honor? Simply put, it is perhaps the single most effective weapon in your hotel marketing arsenal. It gets your message right to your prospect’s inbox.
The real trick is learning how to do hotel email marketing effectively. It requires devising an email communication strategy that will guide your efforts and lead to success, as well as understanding hotel email marketing best practices. How do you do that, though? We’ll explore that below.
Build a Strong Audience List
Hospitality email marketing only works when you have recipients for your messages. Of course, building an email marketing list is no simple thing. It requires finding a way to get prospective guests to willingly give you their name and email address.
Thankfully, you have several different options. These include the following:
- Add a subscription form/opt-in form to your website.
- Offer free downloadable content in exchange for email addresses and names.
- Request that guests provide their email addresses during check-in/check-out.
- Create an opt-in form for a VIP list or something similar that offers guests discounts and deals.
Once you’ve built your list, the real work begins. It’s time to segment your database.
Segmenting Your Database
If you want to fail at hotel email marketing, by all means, send the same email message to every single address in your database. That was email marketing 1.0. Today, things have evolved far beyond that. Being successful means personalizing your message to at least some degree, and that requires segmenting your hospitality industry email list.
Segmenting your list takes time and requires work, so why bother? Simply put, segmented emails are much more likely to be opened, experience higher unique open rates, get much more clicks and create fewer unsubscribes.
Sounds good, right? So, how do you break your list down? Well, the sky’s the limit. Here are a couple of options.
- Traveler Type: Break your list down by national, international, or local travelers.
- Season: Some travelers prefer specific seasons, so you can segment by spring, summer, winter, and fall.
- Party Size and Makeup: You might consider segmenting your hotel email database by party size and makeup, such as families, couples, business travelers, and solo travelers.
- Room Type: What type of room did each guest stay in or do they prefer?
- Frequency/Duration: How often does the guest stay with you? How long are the stays generally?
In addition to these, you can add in other elements. Did the guest visit your in-house restaurant? Have they expressed interest in spa services? Did they use your concierge to locate tickets to local festivals or attractions?
Using these metrics, you can begin to break your list down and it becomes easier to create personalized, customized messages that really resonate with your recipients.
Find Ways to Offer Value
With your list segmented, it’s time to turn our attention to email and your hotel offers. It’s crucial that you don’t abuse the permission your guests have given you. Anything sent to their inbox should be of value (first and foremost to them and only tangentially to your hotel). What can you provide that offers real value, though?
There are many answers here, but no “right” ones. It really depends on the guest, what they want and need, and where they are in the sales funnel.
For instance, for some guests, a newsletter for hotels might be all they need. This could give them tidbits of information about goings-on in the area, what’s new at the hotel, and even coupons or discount deals. For other guests, though, you might need to go into greater depth.
One option is to offer discounts or special deals that aren’t contingent on your guests earning points or doing anything other than signing up for the email list. You can do this based on holidays, in recognition of local events or festivals, and more. It’s also possible to offer value through “tips and tricks” style content that can help address pain points and challenges your guests might experience.
You can also offer guest-specific content based on what you know of them and their situation. Suppose you have a family of four planning a trip to your area and interested in staying at your hotel. What might they find valuable?
While it depends on the makeup of the family, at the least you could provide helpful information about activities for kids in the area, family-friendly dining options, area attractions that might appeal to families, such as museums or nature centers, and more. Families would likely also appreciate information about on-site dining, discounts for meals, hot breakfast served in the room, and more.
Now, contrast that with the needs of a retired couple planning to visit their children in the area and staying at your hotel. You could provide them with information about things that might appeal to them to do in the area, both on their own and with their grandchildren in tow. They might also appreciate discounts for meals.
How do you get this sort of information, though? It begins by sending several different types of emails over time, but it’s also crucial that you stay in touch with them regularly.
Your Communication Schedule
The frequency with which you communicate with guests and prospective guests is just as important as the contents of those communications. While you don’t want to inundate people, you don’t want them to forget that you exist, either.
You must communicate with them throughout their stay cycle, as well. This includes pre-check-in, which is probably what comes to mind first for you. However, you should also communicate with them during the stay. This provides you with the chance to “take the pulse” of their stay and find ways to make it better and more memorable by addressing needs in real-time.
Finally, you should communicate with them after they’ve checked out. Did they enjoy their stay? Was there anything that could have been done better? Take a moment to express your gratitude for their stay, as well.
To be clear, there is no one-size-fits-all hotel email marketing strategy. Yours will need to be customized to your property, and then again to each guest and their unique needs and situation. With some guests, you’ll have information about their goals – perhaps they reach out to ask about the availability of roll-aways for their children. With others, you’ll need to take a different approach. What’s true in all cases is that being genuine, offering value, and communicating throughout the stay cycle results in better guest experiences and higher ratings.
This article was originally published on partner sites.