Ilma from MailerLite

Ilma8 min readTips & ResourcesSeptember 17, 2014

Email marketing for travel industry: sell sunsets not flight tickets

Email marketing for travel industry: sell sunsets not flight tickets

In the travel business, you’re not just selling a space, a hotel room or a seat. And building a solid email marketing strategy for travel business or blog you have to know that first of all you’re selling an experience, a dream, a moment to remember, an adventure and an escape from daily life.

You already have your stories laid out for you – you just need to package them in the right manner and on the right channels. So, today I’ll talk about email marketing ideas for travel businesses.

Get started: build an email list

#1. Collect email addresses in person

Every contact is an opportunity to ask people for their email address, so make the most out of them.

Add a link to your signup form in your and your colleagues' email signature, ask for permission when you are talking to your customers at your office or on the phone.

Explain what readers will receive in your newsletter so that they know what to expect. For example, promise that they will be the first to know about your new offers and special prices.

You may even offer a one time discount to entice your customers to opt-in to your email newsletter.

#2. Sign-up form on your website

Visible sign-up form

Have a VISIBLE and short sign-up form on every page of your website. The default for many companies is to bury their email signup form somewhere on the bottom of their homepage. Try moving it to the top.

Sign-up form from Jetsetter:

travel signup form example

Give incentives

Just like with any other offer, you need to give your prospects a good reason to say YES.

Few ideas what may entice to subscribe to your newsletter

  • Offer one time discount for your trips/flights/hotels that people will get once they subscribe.
  • Offer free travel book. One of our customers offers a free cookbook with recipes that they collected traveling in Asia, Africa, and Central America.
  • Promise that your reader is the first to get information about the best deals.
  • Make a contest or giveaway. All participants of the contest should leave their emails. Then you select the winner once a month or a week.

Sign-up form from Travel Planet:

How to use a newsletter to sell sunsets

Shhh, shhh, no words.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. A picture might be enough to want to click the link and get to know more.

An image is a powerful tool to convince your customers to act. Let’s say you are selling plane tickets to Nice in France. What will you include in your newsletter? Price. Date. And… Photo of sunset in Nice. That will greatly help your customers to imagine what they can get if they purchase the ticket. It’s much easier to sell sunsets than flight tickets, right?

However, there are more ways how you may approach email marketing.

Here are our suggestions:

  • Holiday newsletters. Make an offer for Valentine’s or long weekend escape. Offer several options for the people to choose.

Valentine’s Day offer from Shadows of Africa:

Mercury Himalayan Explorations sent the email with several suggestions for the long weekend:

  • Send different offers for solo travelers, couple and families.

School holidays is perfect timing to offer a family trip to discover Africa:

  • Include more useful information about the destination. We love to know about hidden gems, local tips, unknown festivals and crazy news. That might entice to visit the destinations.

Airbnb sent me information about the tour after I’ve booked an apartment in Paris:

SleepOUT always includes some interesting facts about their destinations:

  • Find a partner and promote each other. For example, you provide accommodation. Why not sharing a great deal to reach your place? Both readers and airlines would be grateful for that.
  • Activities based newsletter. Many travelers plan trips with very specific activities in mind. Skiers, for example, will be searching for articles detailing the best ski locations, other snow activities, travel fares and the best lodging. Hikers will need totally different information.
  • Show behind the scenes of your trips. Let your readers visualize (or not) in the conditions and inspire to join you.

Photos from the tour with Caravane Liotard:

View from the tent in Kashmir if you travel with Himalayan Adventures:

Did you imagine yourself on the yacht? Great pictures and description from Lomond Yacht:

  • Share your own travel advises. What lessons have you learned from traveling?

That’s a great email from Lonely Planet that you can’t stop yourself from clicking on it (here’s the link to the blog post ‘Worst Travel Advice’)

  • Tell a story.

Our customer that organizes trips to India wrote a newsletter about Omelette Man of Jodhpur. The guy claims to go through several thousand eggs a day and has been doing his thing for over 30 years. A story is a creative way to connect with your readers. I shared the email with all my colleagues and retold the story to a bunch of my friends.

  • Share unique things about your destinations.

SleepOUT includes unique accommodation options that they offer together with traditional hotels. This is an awesome way to stand out and be remembered by your readers:

Get more inspiration from newsletter gallery
Travel newsletter examples

More suggestions for your newsletter:

  • Make a video. A video is a very good medium to show more personality. It connects people more than any text. And it’s a perfect way to start dreaming about your vacations.
  • Invite to special events in the office. Like, talks, film screens or food/wine degustations. It might be all connected with the destinations that you want to invite people to travel to.
  • Share reviews & testimonials or encourage customers to write them. Ask people to write a review about your service on TripAdvisor or other websites and share that with the future customers.
  • Summon on your social profiles. Share the photos & post that were most shared and liked.
  • Share recipes from around the world.
  • Make a contest for the best photo taken by your customers.
  • Interview travel guides or travelers that are relevant to your audience (backpackers, coupled, families, hikers, etc.)
  • Build a relationship with travel bloggers. That might be a great way to get unique content and spice up your newsletters.
  • Roundups of the best resources around the web (e.g. “10 Must Read Articles on South America”).
  • Offer discounts.
  • ‘How to’ emails which solve a very specific problem (e.g. “How to Slash Airline Fees in Half”).
  • Free ebooks (written by you or others).

ALWAYS include in the newsletter:

  • Address of your office.
  • Opening hours.
  • Telephone number.
  • Email address to reply to (your personal email, not info@…com)
  • Use the name of a person and the name of the company in the email’s “from” line.
  • Link to your website.
  • Visible call-to-action.
  • Good visuals (images or video). Inspire us to travel.
  • Links to social media that you use.
Are you new to email marketing?
Check this Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing

P. S.

Add a P. S. – using a P. S. has been a staple of top print copywriting techniques for decades. Adding a P. S. is a proven way to get more clicks on your email marketing campaigns. Make it relevant, mindful and always include a call to action link.

P. P. S.

What results could you expect from sending a single newsletter? The average open rate for the travel industry is 31% open rate and the average click-through rate is 5%. Are you doing better? Congratulations and keep going on!

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