How to Increase Bookings with Email Marketing for Hotels

Hotel Email Marketing

The hotel industry was hit hard by the pandemic, and hoteliers turned to new strategies and market segments to stay afloat. Now, as the industry begins to recover, it is critical to adjust your hotel email marketing approach to get back to full occupancy.

This guide will cover seven hotel email marketing tips you can take to generate and capture the demand of domestic travelers while also setting yourself up for post-pandemic success.

1. Diversify Your Hotel Email List

If you rely on one or two customer segments to maintain a high occupancy rate, every crisis will be a game of Russian roulette for your business. For example, the pandemic was a significant blow to hotels that relied on groups, meetings, and events.

Of course, every hotel felt the negative impact of COVID-19, no matter their approach to sales and marketing. No strategy will guarantee high occupancy rates through every crisis. But the more market segments you target in your sales and marketing efforts, the better prepared you’ll be to maintain occupancy.

Further, by building a hotel email list that includes multiple market segments, you’ll have more options if you need to pivot due to an unforeseen event. For example, hoteliers are currently targeting domestic leisure-focused customers to increase occupancy rates.

How to Take Action

You never know what challenges may arise or what market segments it will affect, so use email marketing to cast a wide net. Take a look at the current customer segments you’re focusing on and see if there are other segments you could add. Obviously, you won’t want to include segments that aren’t profitable. But, since email marketing is so cost-effective, you can broaden your scope without hurting your bottom line.

2. Build Your Hotel Email List

In the best of times, email marketing is an effective and cost-efficient way to reach your customers. When disaster strikes and marketing budgets are slim, a good email list is even more essential. Building your email list will increase your capacity to implement low-cost marketing campaigns when budgets are tight.

During a crisis, it’s vital to consider the long-term effects of the actions you take today. This applies even when making decisions about short-term measures that are likely (or at least hopefully) temporary. There will be many variables out of your control, so focus on the things you can control.

You can’t control the cost of advertising, leads, or countless other external factors, but the size and quality of your email list are well within your circle of influence. Also, you are in complete control of when, how, and who you email.

How to Take Action

Start developing an ongoing relationship with past, current, and prospective guests through email.  Collecting emails from your new customers is easy enough, but it’s critical to reach out to them regularly (without flooding anyone’s inbox) to stay top-of-mind after they leave your hotel.

Acquiring emails from prospective guests is more challenging. Here are a few ways to begin:

  • Incentivize website visitors to submit their email with deals, discounts, early check-in times, or upgrades.
  • Host a giveaway.
  • Use website visitor identification to collect the emails and other details of people who leave your site without converting.

3. Segment Your Audience

Every guest or potential guest is unique, which means they have different expectations, wants, and needs. Segmenting your hotel’s email list will allow you to send timely emails that are relevant to their recipients.

If you forgo this essential step in the email marketing process, you will find that your emails go unopened and your unsubscribe rate increases. One study by email service provider Constant Contact found that 56% of people who unsubscribed from an organization’s email list unsubscribed because the emails were irrelevant.

Additionally, good list segmentation (and the personalized email campaigns it facilitates) leads to higher open rates, improved deliverability, and increased email marketing ROI.

How to Take Action

Take a look at the customer segments you’re targeting and the demographic, psychographic, geographic, and behavioral factors unique to each. Then, segment your list into groups and plan campaigns for each segment.

Each email should benefit its recipient in some way. So think about how you can provide value to each segment.:

  • Will they want to know about family-friendly activities nearby?
  • Will they need help planning for an event?
  • Are they looking for restaurants for business dinners?
  • Have they stayed at your hotel before, or are they a new guest?
  • Are they local or from out of town? Foreign or domestic?

This will be a straightforward process if you have the data you need. But what if all you have is an email? Here are three ways to get more data on the people on your email list:

  • Email enrichment. These are tools and services you can use to append data to your email list.
  • Progressive profiling. Each field you add to a form reduces the likelihood that it will be completed. Progressive profiling allows you to collect information on your leads bit by bit. Each time a person fills out a form, the fields they have already filled out will be replaced with new fields so that you can gradually build up a comprehensive profile.
  • Website visitor identification. Website visitor identification platforms collect data on your website visitors without requiring them to fill out a form. You can use one of these platforms to enrich your CRM data with information like:
    • Whether the visitor has children
    • The visitor’s phone number
    • The visitor’s address

4. Personalize Your Emails

In good times or bad, email personalization will enable you to provide customers with the information they need and respond to any questions they may have. But that’s not the only advantage of personalization.

Personalized emails have better open rates, higher click-through rates, and lower unsubscribe rates. This increased engagement will lead to more bookings and fewer last-minute cancellations and no-shows.

How to Take Action

Once you’ve gathered more data on the emails in your list and created targeted segments, you can begin sending personalized email campaigns to increase bookings. For example, you might send parents an email about fun places to go with kids nearby. Or, if there’s an event that would interest some of your subscribers, you can share information about it and available accommodations.

Develop and automate personalized email campaigns for each of your key list segments. Email personalization is always effective, but it’s imperative right now as guests are looking for more information and assurances about safety precautions and other COVID-19 related concerns.

5. Run Discount and Special Offer Campaigns

Who doesn’t love a good deal? Offering discounts, loyalty program membership, or special promotional offers is a great way to encourage people to sign up for your email list. And, for the people who are already on your list, it will increase the likelihood that they’ll book a room.

How to Take Action

Develop campaigns to promote limited-time offers that are only available to people on your email list. Remember to use your list segments to target these campaigns to people that will be interested in them.

6. Use Marketing Automation

Of course, you don’t have time to email every guest about their stay manually, but you don’t have to. With marketing automation, you can put personalized email campaigns on autopilot.

Depending on the feature set of your marketing automation software, you can trigger these campaigns based on form submissions, page views, conversions, and more.

How to Take Action

If you haven’t already, consider automating personalized email campaigns for:

  • Booking confirmations
  • Payment confirmations
  • Booking abandonment
  • Pre-arrival emails including information regarding the stay
  • Pre-arrival emails with local recommendations
  • Post-stay review requests
  • Loyalty program updates
  • Birthday discount emails
  • Last-minute room upgrade offers

7. Test, Track, and Optimize Your Hotel Email Marketing Campaigns

In addition to implementing all of these tactics, you have to measure them. This helps you pinpoint what’s working and what isn’t. By testing your subject lines, messaging, customer segments, and other variables, you can optimize your email marketing campaigns to get better results.

The most important metric is your conversion rate (i.e., how many people click on your call-to-action buttons and book a room).

How to Take Action

Set up conversion tracking and begin testing your email campaigns.

Ensure your email service provider or analytics tools provide the data you need to test your campaigns and get actionable insights on your email marketing program. And it’s not enough to just have the information.

If your current software doesn’t present the data in a way that you can understand and use to inform your decisions, it’s time to look elsewhere.

Better Hotel Email Marketing is a Short-Term and a Long-Term Play

Improving email marketing for your hotel will help your business recover faster and prepare you to pull ahead of the competition after the pandemic fallout subsides. So, if you want to increase your revenue now while also preparing your hotel to weather future crises, it’s time to prioritize email.