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Email marketing for hotels  - getting your strategy right

Following the GDPR mania, we share top tips on how to tailor your strategy


  23, May 2018

 Tags: Hotel Marketing

In light of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect on the 25 May, you may be thinking more closely about your email marketing strategy. Hopefully you will have already secured your contact database based on the new regulations to ‘opt-in’, and have all details stored securely under lock and key.

Now this is done, and you have your subscribers who have actively made the decision to stay with you, it’s time to take a deep dive into your email marketing strategy. Think of it as an opportunity to start afresh and reevaluate, or to make your strategy even more awesome than before.

To help you, we have compiled our top tips to help you forge ahead in light of these changes, from why your new permission based list is a fantastic opportunity to communicate with customers, to what sort of content and personalization techniques you should be using.

Sofitel London St James’ ‘opt in’ strategy ahead of the GDPR

Email Marketing, an overview and why it’s so important for hotels

In a world where content is king and personalisation rules, email marketing is now more important than ever. Not only is it extremely relevant (aren’t we all always on our emails?!) and the best permission based outbound tool in your communications mix, but it’s also very cost effective. When done right it’s a fantastic way to communicate with your guests, keeping them in the loop with news, offers and happenings, and in turn making sure you remain top of mind.

If you are on the right track you will be looking at personalised, tailored and timely email delivery, as opposed to mass broadcasting. Remember, no two guests are the same, so the likelihood of the cookie cutter effect working is very low. You may get some response from those you happen to hit the mark with, but imagine if you had personalised your delivery how much higher the output (and subsequently revenue) would have been?

Read on for more top tips….

Don’t neglect it

First off are you giving your emails the time and attention they deserve? Many marketers have a tendency to leave email marketing campaigns to the bottom of the pile and then try and wing it.

Do not do this. You may be more concerned about your paid marketing efforts (as this will be burning a hole in your hotel marketing budget) but if you don’t have a plan then you are unlikely to succeed. You should be giving email marketing the same love as your paid strategy — especially relevant for many smaller hotels with shallower pockets. It’s a chance for interaction on a direct level so don’t let this go to waste.

Tailored, Targeted and Timely

Before doing anything, it’s vital to make sure your database is as complete as possible allowing you to segment correctly and tailor messages accordingly. Unless you are sending general news (about renovations, new hotel openings or name changes etc.) you have no reason to be sending everyone the same content at all. Segment where ever possible — for example did a guest use the spa or the fitness centre? Did they come with children or on business and book a meeting room, or did they book an offer? All this is important to get to know the nuances of your audience to then decide what content to send them.

Interesting content is critical to succeed. In the case of email content, it’s vital to think about the reason(s) why people subscribed to your mailing list in the first place, and the different reasons they might have. For example, did they subscribe off the back off an offer, and what was that offer e.g. a spa treatment, golf weekend or health and wellness retreat. Are they interested in F&B or did they attend an event at the hotel and subscribed there?

Are they interested in the brand as a whole (if you are a larger group)? Then you can tailor further by testing what content works and segmenting those that react to specific content and removing others. On sign up, you can also ask them what type of news or updates they want to receive so that you are automatically getting a head start. It won’t be creepy that you know their preferences either as they will have actively told you. 

Como Hotels monthly ‘Travel notes’ highlights topics based on preferences using a balance of imagery and text
Here it highlights the Maldives for families and marine life — one of the destinations USPs with clear calls to action ‘learn more’

With special offers, try not to bombard guests. Try to mix this appropriately with other interests they have expressed for example F&B or around special occasions. Village Hotels below combines seasonal offers with F&B information in a fun way. 


Your email may look great but don’t stop there. Make sure that any landing pages that lead off it after clicking through are equally as interesting as otherwise your customer journey will stop there. Email marketing is as much about user experience as any digital marketing campaign, so make sure it’s all up to scratch before that window gets firmly closed.

Timings. Ideally you want to look at a monthly or bi-monthly schedule unless you have something exciting to share (i.e. something more than just a special offer for example). Leaving it any longer can result in a higher unsubscribe rate as people can forget they have signed up. Don’t give them a reason to unsubscribe.

Measure to improve

Finally make sure you are constantly measuring to improve. The great thing about digital marketing is that the figures are there to see, so unlike an advertising billboard you can constantly see if you are making progress. Open rates should never be below 20% (if they are then you need to start again) and ideally above 35%. CTR (click through rates) will show you whether your call to actions are working. If this is very low then either the design is not appealing or the target audience is off track. Unsubscribe rates should remain very low — if it is high then you may be spamming people. For campaigns with direct booking as the end game you can measure revenue as the ultimate goal.

In short email marketing can be a very powerful tool and when done right it paves to the way to direct guest communication and subsequently revenue generating opportunities. Use your new list to the max following 25 May! 

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