The hotel industry took a big hit during the pandemic. As the world slowly returns to normal, the hotel industry has become more competitive than ever.
With fewer travelers looking for rooms, hotels must find smart, budget-friendly ways to connect with potential customers. Email marketing for hotels is the answer. With an ROI of $42 per dollar spent, email marketing delivers stronger results than social media, direct mail, search and television ads.
Email is by far the best digital marketing channel to promote your hotel, nurture future guests, up-sell and cross-sell rooms, and keep in touch with past guests long after their stay.
In this hotel email marketing guide, we'll show you how to use the power of email to increase your hotel revenue and growth.
Email marketing is such a broad term, and it can be hard to know where exactly to begin.
When you follow these steps, you’ll have a rock-solid hotel email marketing strategy in place that’ll get your rooms occupied year-round.
The first step to growing your revenue with hotel email campaigns is actually having a list of subscribers that want to receive your emails.
Check the data you already have. Look at your hotel records or property management system to see if you already have customer email addresses. If you do, you can import them to your email list.
Do make sure that you have permission to email them before doing so (check this GDPR and email opt-ins post to see how to legally go about this). Opting-in also helps your email deliverability by ensuring their email address is correct and that it reaches their inbox.
Want to learn more about how to grow a high-quality email list? We've got a guide for that too!
To collect new subscribers, you need a signup form.
With email software, you can create a signup form in just minutes. Ask for as little information as possible (stick to an email address and optionally a name), this will heighten the chances of people filling out your form.
You want to integrate the signup form on diverse spots on your website. The footer and contact page are great to start with, but also a pop-up form can boost subscriptions.
Do follow-up with a confirmation email that tells your new subscribers that they subscribed to an email list.
Here's an example of an embedded form on the website of Gramercy Park Hotel.
If you have specific landing pages (for example for various hotel locations), you can use different signup forms that are each attached to a specific subscriber group. These groups can be used to send location-specific hotel email campaigns.
Whether online or offline, make sure to give visitors a reason to sign up for your hotel email list.
Examples of incentives for new subscribers:
Discount on their first hotel night
Chance to win a hotel voucher
Exclusive deals and promotions
Invitations to events hosted in your hotel
Early access to discount rates
Guide to all the hotspots in the surrounding location
You could batch and blast the same hotel newsletter to your entire email list, but then you’d miss out on the huge potential email marketing has to offer.
When you personalize each email, you’ll get the most out of email marketing and enjoy the best results from your efforts.
Look at your email subscriber list and think about how to make each email relevant and personal.
A simple way to make your emails more personalized is to segment your subscribers. Segmenting means simply grouping subscribers by the characteristics they share.
Learn more about subscriber segmentation in this ultimate guide.
For example, you can segment people by whether they are leisure or business travelers, the type of room they booked, how many people in total checked-in or the total amount of money spent during their last visit.
By integrating existing customer data into your emails, you make each message more valuable and increase the likelihood of a customer taking action.
Let’s say someone stayed with you last summer. In late spring, you can send a summer-themed email, like Blue Moon Hotel, to inform guests about various offers during the season. To reward recurring visitors you can also offer a discount on their stay.
When you cast a wide net, you tend to catch a lot of low quality fish. The same goes for email marketing. Sending the same generic email to everyone on your list, is like casting a wide net. Without personalized email funnels, the quality of customer journey decreases.
Basic email funnels can be broken down into 4 stages:
Awareness: People are meeting and getting familiar with your brand.
Consideration: Readers are actively researching hotels and comparing them.
Decision: Time to convince them to choose you.
Follow-up: Keep the conversation going after a sale and nurture a long-term relationship.
What type of email you send to your subscribers should depend on which stage of the customer journey they’re on. For example, emails with discount offers in the subject line should only be sent to subscribers in the decision phase. Whereas review requests and pre-arrival emails belong in the follow-up phase.
You can use automation to ensure each email is delivered at the right stage for each subscriber.
We know that social media influences the decision of travelers worldwide.
Through email, you can drive more traffic to your social media posts and grow your following.
With this marketing channel, you’ll have a direct path to the customer without depending on a social platform (and its algorithm) to reach your customer.
We explain how email marketing and social media work together for good in this in-depth guide.
You could simply add social media buttons at the bottom of your emails and encourage visitors to follow or share your content.
Or, host a contest to gather more social followers. Hotel Danubius gives away a wellness weekend in Hungary. All that their readers need to do to enter is "like" the hotel on Facebook.
MailerLite customers can integrate their favorite social media posts in their newsletter super quickly. In the editor, you’ll find a special social content block that directly embeds a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn post in the email.
People nowadays trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Reviews are a major factor influencing hotel profitability and email is the perfect channel to use if you want to collect more online feedback.
In fact, 80% of reviews originate when brands send follow-up emails urging customers to leave a review after their purchase.
Use this tactic to get customers to leave reviews on third-party websites and increase your hotel visibility.
Reviews tell other customers how other people experienced their stay, and help you to improve how your hotel operates. Surveys such as the NPS (Net Promoter Score) are ideal to find out how likely people are to recommend your hotel to friends and colleagues.
Here's what Deirdre McGlone, the hotelier we mentioned earlier, said about the NPS:
We use the Net Promoter Score as one of our key questions in measuring guest feedback. On a scale of 1 to 10 we ask our guests: “How likely are you to recommend Harvey’s Point?” The average score is usually between 9.5 and 10.
You don't win awards without satisfying customers, and the NPS score gives you an accurate reading of current customer satisfaction.
With MailerLite, you can easily embed NPS surveys within your email. Because readers can vote directly from the email, more people will answer, as it only takes a second click on the score.
Airbnb automatically asks each guest after their visit how they would rate their stay. This helps to create an overall rating for hosts. However, they also ask for feedback on their support.
Here's an email from Airbnb that asks subscribers how they can improve their customer support. All the reader needs to do is click the number that reflects the likeliness.
If you’re not seeing a lot of responses to your survey, experiment with offering a small reward for each completed survey. This can motivate readers to take part.
It's easier to get former customers to stay at your hotel again than it is to acquire completely new customers.
This is why post-check or follow-up emails are important to add to your hotel email marketing.
After a customer has checked out from your hotel, you can send them a post-stay email that:
Thanks the customer for their stay
Encourages hotel guests to visit again
Invitation for a loyalty program with special offers and discounts
Benefits and rewards points
You shouldn't stop here though. Engage with the customer regularly by sending them personalized emails about special events and promotions.
Do keep an eye on the frequency of these emails.
A common mistake that most brands make is that they send too many emails to their subscribers.
Best case, you should limit your frequency to two emails per week.
Your post-check emails can be automatically sent when you use email automation. Automated emails are automatically sent when, for example, a certain amount of time has passed or a trigger is activated.
How do you use email automation in your hotel newsletter campaigns? Learn how to save time by setting up an automation workflow in this guide.
Examples of activated triggers are:
A link in an email is clicked
A customer behaves in a certain way (e.g. engages with an email)
With email automation, you can automatically send out an email 3 days after the checkout date (if you’ve imported this customer information into your email tool). This makes your work a lot simpler!
Look at this example of Suiteness. This regular newsletter could have easily been a targeted automated email.
The first line of the email says “We get it, not every vacation can be a grand vacation in Hawaii.” Imagine if this email was targeted at people who just visited Hawaii, probably spent a few bucks and were now suggested to plan a summer staycation—current, helpful and relevant!
The final step to nailing your hotel industry email marketing strategy is tracking important metrics such as your email open and click-through rates.
According to our data on the travel industry, the average open rate is about 25.88% with a click-through rate of 3.33%.
These figures give you a way to benchmark your performance. Your goal should be to first reach these figures and then surpass them with higher clicks.
However, the ultimate goal of your newsletters is to increase your conversion rates. There's little point in aiming for higher open rates and click-through rates when few subscribers are converting and making bookings for their future stay.
Use the data from individual campaigns to see what’s working and what’s not, then take these learnings to refine your future content and improve your hotel email marketing statistics.
Now that you're familiar with how to set up your hotel email marketing strategy and what emails will get more people to stay at your hotel, let’s look at some effective email marketing templates we think you’ll love.
But before we do, it's easy to get started with a newsletter design for your email campaigns. You can either start from scratch with our easy-to-use drag and drop editor or customize one of our ready-made templates to suit your marketing needs.
Still wanting ideas on newsletter designs? Check out our guide on how to design emails hotel guests will read.
Moving on, these are our favorite hotel email marketing best practices.
Hotel Drisco shows that you can use your email list for more than just promoting your offers.
They leveraged their existing subscribers to get more votes in a hospitality industry contest.
Sure they’re asking their readers for a favor, but it also shows that the hotel is worthy of an award nomination.
Don't the images in this email take your breath away? When your hotel is based in a location that’s worth showing off, do so!
Images in a newsletter can get people to take action. It's one thing to talk about the destination, it's another thing to show your subscribers exactly what their temporary home and surroundings will look like.
One look upon the email below can immediately make you imagine what a great time you could have at these beautiful locations.
This email from Hotel Sir is not only beautifully designed (we love the pastel newsletter colors), it’s also informative and useful for hotel guests and regular visitors.
The newsletter shows what events are happening in September, gives information about how to make the most out of Berlin art week and ends with a Barcelona fact you probably didn’t know before.
What's the first thing you notice about the email below?
It's probably the 25% discount, right?
Kimpton shows us that your emails don't have to be long—not when you know exactly what you want your subscribers to do.
In this email, the short copy and straightforward call-to-action (CTA) clearly show that the hotel wants you to book a room by January 21st. Simple, straightforward and effective.
This kind of time-limited offer is a perfect CTA that adds a sense of urgency to your subscribers. It forces them to take action before they miss out on a good deal. Learn more about creating other types of CTA that work in our comprehensive guide.
We love the design and email content from the Seaview Hotel. The British hotel does a great job of treating the customer to last-minute getaway offers, as well as informing the reader about local events and hotel news.
Hotels these days have become much more than just a place where people come to stay.
Look at Volkshotel, a hotel in Amsterdam. It used to be the headquarters of the newspaper "Volkskrant" before it got turned into an artsy hotel with cozy hideouts and huge hangouts.
Their newsletters look like a high-quality piece of art, which makes sense, as they host a lot of art-related events. In the newsletter below, they announce their September highlights.
Email marketing is one of the best ways to improve your hotel marketing strategy. It can not only boost customer retention but can also help you to acquire new customers and increase their spending.
Your hotel email marketing strategy should begin with growing your list and getting the right hotel email campaigns in place.
Always send subscribers valuable content specific to their needs. The more personal, the better your email results will be.
Use email marketing to send practical information and pre-arrival reminders. After a stay, you can collect feedback and stay top of mind by saying thanks or inviting guests to your loyalty program.
Don't forget to automate your emails to lower the amount of manual labor you need to do. With an email tool, automation hotel campaigns are easily set up.
Little effort, major results!
Are you using any of these 7 steps in your hotel email marketing strategy?
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