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Email Marketing By Industry

Travel email marketing: Selling sunsets, not plane tickets

The travel industry has had a bumpy ride over the last two years. But luckily there was one marketing channel that helped businesses to stay connected with customers: email marketing.

From virtual experiences to local getaways, many travel agencies adapted to the challenges of the pandemic and used email to stay close to their audiences through thick and thin. And now, travel bookings are starting to climb again.

Travel email newsletters can inspire with alluring footage, convince people with captivating travel stories, and offer ideas to ease into traveling again. It can help you go beyond selling tickets and make it all about the experience you’re selling. 

Fasten your seatbelts, and let’s springboard into how travel businesses can use email marketing to build airtight customer relationships.


Our 2022 benchmarks show that the tourism industry’s open rates are slowly starting to climb back up, from 25.88% in 2020 to 28.76% in 2021. 

Meanwhile, travel bookings are rising again. For example, Carnival Corp has announced that cruise bookings for the second half of 2022 are ahead of pre-pandemic levels. 

Things are starting to look up for travel companies—which makes this the perfect time to get your travel email marketing campaigns in shape.

With email marketing, you can create a direct line of communication, allowing you to connect with your customers at any time. It also offers a high ROI ($42 for every dollar spent). With the right email strategy, you can build an audience of engaged subscribers so that your travel promotions, loyalty programs and deals get the attention they deserve.


When it comes to email marketing success, the content of your newsletters is key. As a travel agency, you’re competing with big shots like Google and Kayak, so it’s important to build meaningful customer relationships. This way, you’ll capture their hearts and diversify yourself from the crowd.

It all starts with relevant, engaging and helpful travel content. Don’t just send out sales pitches for good travel deals, but offer valuable information.

You'll want content ideas like:

  • Travel e-book (one of our customers offers a free cookbook with recipes that they collected whilst traveling Asia, Africa and Central America)

  • Downloadable lists

  • City guides and other useful information

  • Travel tips

  • Personal travel stories

  • Calendar with the best times to book

  • Quizzes

  • Live tracking of which countries are on the ‘green list’ to travel

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Tip: Read how to create engaging email content in the guide below.


1. Say welcome aboard with a welcome email

A warm welcome sets the tone for the entire experience. Virtually, you need to do the same with a welcome email.

Welcome emails have a 42% higher read rate than standard email marketing campaigns (which spells good news for your conversion rates)! With email automation, you can magically make them arrive in your subscribers’ inboxes the very moment they sign up.

  • Pro tip: Here’s how to set up a welcome email series with MailerLite, our straightforward email marketing software. 🤓 Or, check out our introduction to automation below.

Your welcome email should greet your new pen pal and tell them more about you. A lot of travel sites tell subscribers what to expect. Some will also include a special deal or promotion to get the ball rolling. 

Here’s how Sonder greets its new subscribers, with a stunning apartment photo to catch attention, plus a stand-out call to action (CTA).

Sonder travel email example
Image credit: Sonder
  • Pro tip: A CTA button should work together with all the other elements of the email newsletter to influence subscribers to take a course of action. Learn more about creating highly-effective CTAs.


2. Send a personalized greeting

Imagine walking into your hotel room and seeing a bottle of champagne and a personalized welcome card with your name on it. That would definitely put a smile on your face!

82% of travelers believe that personalization is one of the most luxurious travel customer experiences—so why not extend that to your email marketing campaigns?

Readers want tailored travel newsletters with content that they can actually use. Sure, you can send American readers newsletters about how great it is Down Under, but how many of your subscribers can quickly hop on a plane to Australia? Probably not many. It makes a lot more sense to talk about travel destinations your reader can actually plan and book. 

Segmentation lets you group your subscribers based on shared traits so that you can send them tailored messages that resonate. For example, use information on the places your subscribers have visited or whether or not they have children. Check the available data and see how you can use this to create groups.

For example, Booking.com sends this personalized message to a subscriber who is just finishing their stay in a London hotel. There’s even information about booking a ride from their hotel to the airport!

Booking.com travel email newsletter with recommendations
Image credit: Booking.com
  • Pro tip: If you don’t know certain information, ask! Gather data through subscriber preferences, embedded surveys or contests.


3. Catch attention with the right imagery

Many of us have no idea what other places in the world look like. That’s why we search for images and create Pinterest boards with all the dreamy destinations we want to visit.

Traveling is about experiences and emotions. Using the right images in your email design can motivate readers to put your offer on top of their bucket list.

For example, Vacasa tells its subscribers to ‘Reach their dream destination’, and then lets this stunning tropical paradise photo do the rest of the talking…

Vacasa travel email newsletter example
Image credit: Vacasa
  • Pro tip: Want to design professional-looking travel email newsletters on your own? We break down the process into two design elements in our guide on designing emails that people will read.


4. YOLO! Express urgency in your travel newsletter

Traveling costs money, but you also only have one life to explore the world. Play with this sense of urgency to get people to act.

Use offers and special occasions to create limited promotions. In January, you can promote last-minute offers to sunny paradises. For Easter, you can highlight discounted family-friendly packages.

Combining your promotions with email personalization makes sure your offer is a perfect fit for each of your subscribers.

The Hoxton promotes their limited-time 20% discount and includes “What to tell your boss” excuses that surely gave their readers a good laugh.

The Hoxton travel email newsletter example
Image credit: The Hoxton
  • Pro tip: Did you know that you can create email coupons with MailerLite? Use them to boost your sale and ramp up engagement with your travel agency.


5. Share educational content

Think about why your subscribers should sign up for YOUR travel newsletter. Do you have insights about certain locations? Travel hacks or hidden gems? Can you tell readers never-heard-before stories about a culture? Or debunk stereotypes and myths about places?

Informative content from destinations or travel brands can influence the decision-making process and make people go places!

When you spread your knowledge using travel email marketing, your content stays within the newsletter. Just for you and your tribe to know. Use this exclusiveness as a USP to attract more subscribers.

In this travel newsletter, National Geographic teaches readers about Morocco.

National Geographic travel email marketing example
Image credit: National Geographic
  • Pro tip: If you can package your content in the form of videos, even better, as people can remember 95% of a message in video form, compared to 10% when they read it.


6. Start a conversation

Have you ever searched on Facebook for traveling groups? Spoiler alert: There are LOADS. People love to get together and talk about their experiences in foreign countries. Use this community feeling in your travel email marketing campaigns.

According to Bright Local, 77% of people will ‘always’ or ‘regularly’ check local business reviews before buying. People want to hear other people’s opinions before making up their minds.

To gain trust and add a personal touch, add customer reviews to your travel email campaigns. Or collect them first using your travel agency newsletter!

In this personalized email, a hotel in Barcelona makes it super easy for readers to leave reviews. In-email NPS surveys work well to find out how satisfied your customers are.

Hotel tourism survey email newsletter example
Image credit: Silken Ramblas Barcelona

7. Let’s get social

It’s been found that 86% of people have researched a travel destination after seeing a social media post about it!

Yep, email marketing and social media go together like a good glass of wine and a beautiful sunset. Spread your exposure and encourage people to get social with you. You can add social media posts directly to your travel email campaign, or add social media buttons—just like Tropicfeel did below.

Tropicfeel travel email newsletter example
Image credit: Tropicfeel
  • Pro tip: 85% of travelers use their phones to manage different aspects of their trips. That’s why you need to make all your travel email templates responsive, so users don’t need to pinch and zoom to see your content on mobile.


Your email list is the driving force behind your travel email marketing campaigns. Building one is easy! All you need is a way to collect email addresses—offline and/or online.

We'll quickly cover how you can gather emails here. If you want to learn how to grow a high-quality email list, we've got a guide for that too!

Collecting email addresses in person

Ask people to sign up for your emails when you talk to them face to face. The simplest way is to use an offline email collection app that works on mobile devices and smartphones. This method is GDPR-compliant and hassle-free, as it automatically syncs your new subscribers to your travel email list.

Collecting email addresses through your website

To get people to opt-in to your email list via your website, you can use pop-ups and embedded forms.

Pop-ups

Pop-ups work well because they literally pop up in your face. Integrating pop-ups is easy when you use an email tool. Set the frequency to a level where it’s not annoying for your visitors.

This is how Luxury Travel Magazine uses pop-ups. They provide a clear reason for signing up for their travel newsletter and only ask for an email address. The sea background adds vacation vibes.

Luxury travel magazine promotion pop-up to sign up
Image credit: Luxury Travel Magazine

Embedded forms

You’ll often find embedded forms in the website footer and blog sidebar. This is the signup form Iconic Luxury Hotel uses for people to sign up for their travel agency newsletter.

Iconic Luxury Hotel signup form example
Image credit: Iconic Luxury Hotel

(Bonus) Incentives: Something to brighten people’s moods

You’re asking for their email, so why not give subscribers something in return? Here are some email incentive ideas for travel agencies:

  • One-time discount

  • The first chapter of an e-book

  • Exclusive information, like receiving deals first

  • Free tickets to your travel event, conference or fair

Not only do these ideas make great incentives, but they can also be used as content ideas for your next newsletter.

You can also create a travel landing page to promote a contest or giveaway. In order to participate, people need to sign up. The winner is then announced via email.

This page from Harrison Beach Hotel shows how website visitors have a chance to win a free 1-night stay (up to a $300 value) by simply subscribing.

Harrison Beach Hotel email marketing page example
Image credit: Harrison Beach Hotel

Travel blogger Tara Cannon of Pint Size Pilot also uses lead magnets as a smart way to collect new subscribers.

Pint Size Pilot lead magnet example with travel freebie
Image credit: Pint Size Pilot

So who in the travel agency industry is doing their email marketing right? 

Let’s get inspired.

Tropicfeel

This newsletter does a great job of selling a more local travel experience, with a large aesthetically-pleasing image and spot-on email copy (e.g. ‘Adventure is just around the corner’).

Tropicfeel newsletter example
Image credit: Tropicfeel

Selina

This travel newsletter is bound to make people smile, with the fun header and tantalizing glimpses of different travel locations. Plus, the travel company even helps people to schedule their pre-departure tests, if needed.

Selina newsletter example
Image credit: Selina

Vacasa

Can we just take a minute to appreciate the gorgeous illustrations in this travel email? It celebrates the travelers who were able to ‘get back out there’ in 2021. The complementary colors instantly catch the eye and make the reader want to scroll down to see the most-loved homes that people visited.

Vacasa travel email example
Image credit: Vacasa

Southwest

Travel emails aren’t just pretty scenery, it’s also about appreciating your readers.

This email from Southwest Airlines does exactly that. The personalization is top-notch—from the customer’s name to their travel history and loyalty program points earned. The smiling faces of the diverse employees reflect Southwest’s image as one of the friendliest airlines in the sky.

Southwest Airlines newsletter example
Image credit: Southwest

Travel Triangle

This Hong Kong guide from Travel Triangle offers a stunning selection of travel ideas, complete with eye-catching photos to help the readers visualize themselves there! With clear headings and bold CTAs, you can grab your subscribers’ attention and get them to take action.

Travel Triangle newsletter example
Image credit: Travel Triangle (designed with MailerLite)

P.S. You can find more travel email campaigns in our travel newsletter example gallery.


Here are some ideas from actual email subject lines that will inspire you. Like writing content that your subscribers will care about, remember to craft subject lines that stand out in your subscriber's inbox to ramp up your click-through rate.

Give them a compelling reason to click open your email and read on!

Travel newsletter email subject lines

Katie & Ben - Two Wandering Soles - Here is your Ultimate Japan Packing List

Azamara Club Cruises - Here’s one destination we can’t stop thinking about.

Jack @ Jack's Flight Club - How cheap flights work

Tours4fun - You've got over $10 worth of points!

Priceline.com - ❤️️ Treat Yourself, Jonas! Ridiculously good Rental car deals from ridiculously low prices!

Vueling Air - Allergic to the cold? Soak up Spring at one of our destinations

Jessie on a Journey - Notes on maintaining relationships while traveling ❤ ✈

Delta Air Lines - It's Time To Check-In

Expedia.com - ✈ Paging passenger Jonas Fischer: You’re getting the flight deal of a lifetime

Nomads With A Purpose - Reset your life in 30 days + Summer is just around the corner 😲

Momondo - Prices going down for your flight from AMS to DPS.

Dipaways - Do women solo travel more than men?

Booking.com - A reminder about your trip

Jetsetter - 10 Pro Tips for Packing Lighter Every Time

Captivating Compass - How to save on transportation during family travel & more!

Wanderlust - Gift a year of travel inspo - perfect for Father's Day

To learn more, we cover how to write subject lines that boost open rates in another Ultimate guide.


To end this trip on a high note: Travel email marketing can definitely help you acquire new customers! Well-curated emails also help you to retain and encourage your readers to keep following your journey.

Sending engaging, personalized and valuable content is your answer to turning subscribers with wanderlust into loyal customers that trust your travel expertise and happily book your offers.

As a travel agency, you’ll want to take your readers on many trips, but let’s not forget the journey that leads to the purchase. Butter them up with travel inspo and insider knowledge, and be a genuine help to make sure each individual subscriber finds their dream destination.

Now go out there and find some new travel followers, and don’t forget to enjoy the ride!


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