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Email marketing for hotels: Comprehensive guide

  Posted in Resources  Last updated 6/11/2023

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What is hotel email marketing and why do you need it?

Email marketing is one of the most viable and cost-effective ways for your hotel to reach guests and boost direct bookings.

Marketing through multiple channels, both traditional and emerging, can significantly increase costs at your hotel. Email is a simple way to market effectively on a lower budget, and still drives great results. On average, email marketing returns almost $40 for every $1 spent, which gives it a return-on-investment advantage when compared to other marketing channels.

You need email marketing to attract new guests, engage new customers, retain existing customers, and to promote and build your brand reputation.

This blog will take you through a complete guide to email marketing at your hotel. Let’s go!

7 steps for building your property’s email marketing strategy

While email is a simple tool, there’s still a number of requirements for you to fulfil if you want your emails or email campaigns to be successful. Here are the general steps you need to follow:

1. Build your email databases
First things first – before you can influence any travellers you need a list of email addresses that you can send your content to. The best ways to do this include:

  • Implementing a sign-up form on your homepage and in the footers of key pages
  • Creating a separate sign-up for your blog
  • Requesting guests who book with you to opt-in
  • Asking current guests to sign-up in person when they check-in or out
  • Getting sign-ups from your social media pages

2. Analyse current email performance
Looking at key metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and unsubscribe rates will give you a good idea of which types of emails and content are working for and which are not.

Based on this you can try:

  • Using different types of emails
  • Changing your content
  • Altering when you send emails and how many you send
  • Switching your CTAs
  • Updating or switching landing pages

This will allow you to optimise your performance and deliver better results as your list grows.

3. Segment the members of your database
By looking at your email performance, you’ll be able to see who is engaging with your marketing and who isn’t. Try splitting these people into two different lists. For the group who hasn’t been engaging, you could try offering an incentive like a discount or special package to get them interested in you again.

4. Personalise your emails
Following the previous point, you can go further and segment your lists based on demographics, reasons for travel, preferences and motivations, and more. The more data you can collect, the better your segmenting can become.

Personalising your emails will have a very positive result on engagement and your key conversion metrics, earning you more bookings and revenue in the long term. Some figures say a segmented email campaign will deliver a 760% increase in revenue when compared to generic campaigns.

5. Optimise copy and images
How you say something is often just as important as what you’re saying, so it’s important to test different messages to see what people respond to most. Regular A/B testing will help you determine the best content to use.

Additionally, we’ve all heard that the average person remembers 80% of what they see and just 20% of what they read so make sure you feature amazing images in your emails where applicable. Show off your best amenities and your destination’s most breathtaking attractions.

6. Always send follow-ups
It’s always easier to market to current customers than to find new ones. Once a guest has checked it’s vital that you keep them engaged – and they can also do some marketing for you.

Thank them, convince them to stay again with an offer or discount, and ask them to leave a positive review for your hotel if they enjoyed their stay.

7. Keep tracking performance
Constant data collection and performance evaluation is needed to know if your strategies are working. Don;t assume the changes you’ve made are the correct ones. Validate your thoughts by analysing the same key metrics we talked about at the start of the process.

What types of emails should you send your guests?

To ensure you’re never boring or spamming your email contacts, try sending a variety of marketing email types such as:

  • Acquisition emails that include offers and incentives that are designed to win bookings quickly.
  • Promotional emails that talk about a particular event or service that’s happening within your property or in the local area. Make it clear that it’s something travellers won’t want to miss!
  • Retention emails that touch base with former guests such as by saying happy birthday or happy stay anniversary.
  • Blog emails to subscribers giving them news or information about your hotel or your destination including listicles, guides, or reviews.
  • Guest engagement emails such as pre-arrival emails that remind guests of their trip details and also offer an opportunity to purchase extras and add-ons.
  • Announcement emails to give guests the chance to participate in competitions or giveaways, or special events.

Remember: with every email you are building a relationship with your customer. By taking the time to send personalised and relevant communications, guests will feel valued and want to book with you or spend extra on their stay.

If you’re lacking inspiration, check out this post on Pinterest for a tonne of examples and templates for inspiration.

8 easy email campaign ideas for hotels

When you start thinking about the different topics and subject lines you could use for your email campaigns, you’ll realise the hotel and travel industry allows for a lot of variety and creativity.

Here are just some of the angles you could try:

1. Seasonal emails
Target guests all year round with enticing seasonal emails that convince guests to enjoy a winter break, summer getaway, or spring celebration.

2. Holiday promotions
Give leisure travellers every reason to spend their holiday periods abroad, exploring a new culture or a new part of their own country.

3. Urgency messages
If you need to quickly boost occupancy for an upcoming weekend, send an email offering travellers a limited time discount.

4. Blog posts
Blogs offer plenty of variety, enabling you to educate, entertain, and market to subscribers and go into more detail about why your destination is a great place for tourists, or why your hotel is perfectly suited for business travellers.

5. News and updates
Any exciting developments about your property or within the local community should be communicated to your database because it could give someone the nudge they needed to finally book a stay or return for another time.

6. Sharing the love
If you get any particularly outstanding reviews or have prominent figures and influencers mentioning your property, use this as marketing material to entice more travellers to your hotel.

7. Local highlights
You could do a series of emails highlighting the top local attractions or eateries, positioning yourself as a trusted local guide and travel advisor.

8. Time for fun
Host competitions and giveaways that you can also promote via social media to boost engagement and reach, while increasing your occupancy and giving you a chance to win revenue and guest loyalty.

Hotel email marketing best practices

To ensure you aren’t falling prey to common mistakes or missing any must-dos, here’s a helpful list of best practices to keep in mind when creating your hotel emails.

  • Target repeat guests whenever possible – It’s always easier to win bookings from guests you already know and have a relationship with.
  • Send your more targeted emails in peak periods – Guests are more likely to look for rooms in the run-up to peak periods, so use this time to remind them why they should book with you.
  • Never miss a chance to collect and use customer data – Every customer who books a hotel room online understands they must be willing to provide their email address (in order to receive their confirmation email and other important information from the hotel). Always collect this data at the time of booking or check-in and use it to follow up with your customers in a timely fashion.
  • Optimise send times – Personalise and send emails that relate directly to your guests’ needs and preferences. In particular, be mindful of which time zone they’re in and send emails when they’re most likely to be receptive.
  • Keep subject lines short and direct – Your subject line can make or break you from the start. Outline clear benefits and messages in the subject line so guests are more encouraged to open and read it.
  • Always include call-to-actions – A friendly CTA combined with a personalised message helps to encourage click-throughs and responses.
  • Don’t spam – If you start sending communications too regularly, your audience will become annoyed and disengage, deleting your emails without even giving them a chance.
  • Put yourself in your customers shoes – For example, don’t send a local attractions email to a traveller who you know is coming to town for business.
  • Continue to segment over time – As you collect more data on guests and performance, you can expand segmenting to include geographic locations, room types, purchasing behaviour, stay dates, and more to further personalise the emails you send to each guest.

Always remember your emails should offer your guests value at all times and be interesting and relevant to them personally – rather than only serving to win your hotel revenue.

Email marketing software for your hotel

Software can play a huge role in helping to automate, personalise, and simplify your hotel email marketing.

By harnessing the power of marketing automation software, you can analyse metrics such as your CTR and others in order to help fine-tune the timing of your email campaigns, as well as test subject lines and CTAs.

Email marketing tools will help you send a lot of emails at once, and segment your send lists to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. Some of the most popular email marketing providers currently include:

  • Mailchimp
  • ActiveCampaign
  • Hubspot
  • MailerLite
  • Moosend
  • Drip
  • SendGrid
  • CampaignMonitor

You can also send automated guest emails through your hotel management software – such as your hotel booking engine. Your booking engine will let you easily send confirmation emails, reminder emails, post-stay emails, and other custom emails to help you enhance guest experience and own your relationship with the guests who book with you directly.

To take full advantage of hotel automation and booking engine software consider adopting a hotel commerce platform such as SiteMinder, which allows you to control all aspects of your property from one simple interface.


By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of SiteMinder, the leading technology provider delivering hoteliers unbeatable revenue results. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at SiteMinder. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance and value for accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations achieve their goals.

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