6 Ways to Increase Bookings Through Email Marketing

Marketing 8 minute read 4th November 2020

It’s amazing to think that one of the internet’s oldest forms of communication remains incredibly important for most businesses.

Email is far from dead. It may get a fair amount of stick for it’s ability to take up needless time, but that usually relates to the mismanagement of email.

When it comes to marketing, email represents a single route to a defined end point: the user’s inbox. You don’t get that same level of direct connectivity with social media marketing or pay-per-click advertising.

However, email is so easily misused as a marketing tool, which is why your inbox gets chock-full of junk each day. It’s thought that 45% of all email is spam, and the increasing threat of cybercrime does little to ease the fears of inbox owners.

So, how do you shout above that din as a hospitality operator and ensure your emails are seen by the perfect audience? More importantly, how do you encourage loyalty with this form of marketing?

Why focus on email now?

The hospitality industry is changing, rapidly. There’s a stricter focus on profit than ever before, and customers tread complex paths to the point of booking.

With costs escalating and third-party websites taking the lion’s share of bookings, it’s never been more important for hotels and restaurants to drive direct revenue.

You’ll have a far better chance of achieving this if you have great guest data - the most important of which being their email address. Obtain those details ethically, and you’ll build a list which is gold dust. It’s why content marketers and influencers will often point out that their email list is the most valuable and profitable tool they have - and the same goes for your business.

Getting started

You need to begin with some solid research into your customers’ journeys. To really understand what they want from your email marketing, you need to map out the following journey points:

  • inspiration;
  • reservation;
  • pre-arrival;
  • check-in;
  • on-premise;
  • check out; and
  • post-visit.

What does a restaurant need

We’re not suggesting you need to abandon social media or any other form of marketing, but email is the only channel which can work across that entire journey above.

Let’s consider some examples.

Example of a pre-arrival email from a hotel

It all starts with personalisation. You know the guest’s name, their stay dates and what rate or package they’ve booked. So, use it. Your pre-arrival email to guests may look something like this:

Email best practice email

This is your chance to up-sell and delight customers before they even set foot through your door.

Example of a post-visit email from a restaurant

Once a guest departs, you have one of the biggest opportunities to welcome them back and avoid any further commission charges if they originally booked via a third party.

Email best practice example 2

6 steps for creating emails guests want to receive

1. Add a sign-up form to your website

The key way to grow a list of happily opted-in email subscribers is to add a signup form on your website.

Make it prominent on every page and add it to the bottom of each blog post. Just make sure you ask for explicit permission from them for marketing communications.

2. Segment your subscriber base

How well do you know your customers? Sending your marketing emails to one great big lump of people every time won’t yield the best results.

Instead, break up that email database into segments by age, location, past booking preferences and anything else which will help you send targeted, relevant emails their way.

3. Use automation

We mentioned earlier about the customer journey, and that probably left you with one overriding question: where do you find the time to send all of those emails?

Good news: you don’t need to - this is where automation comes in. Every email marketing platform offers this, and it means those pre-arrival and post-visit emails can head out without any human intervention.

4. Gain trust with social proof

The more you can prove to your email subscribers that you’re marketing relates to real world experiences, the more they’re likely to engage with your messages.

Do this by periodically sending out newsletters which feature the lovely comments you receive from past guests via good reviews on websites like TripAdvisor.

5. Focus on loyalty

When putting together your post-visit emails, think about how you can encourage loyalty among your customers.

This may be the case of building a full-blown loyalty programme, or simply tempting them back with a tantalising discount code.

6. Track your campaigns

Every single campaign you send via email needs to be tracked if you’re to stand a chance of sending people emails they want to receive. Let’s consider that in more detail.

Measuring the success of email campaigns

Measuring the success of email campaigns

One of the most common mistakes made with email marketing is to forget the vital task of measuring campaign success.

How do you know your carefully crafted emails are actually working? Open and click rates for each industry vary, but they’re relatively stable in hospitality. For instance, restaurants and venues such as hotels can expect, on average, the following:

  • 20.39% open rates
  • 1.4% click rates
  • 0.32% hard bounce rates
  • 0.39% unsubscribe rates

That’s not bad, as it goes, and it’ll give you the perfect benchmark from which to work.

However, if you build a loyal following on your email marketing list, you can expect open rates as high as 30% and clicks which push past the 2% barrier.

This takes time, though. And it’s important you compare those engagement metrics with rooms sold, tables booked and the bottom line profit you’re making as a result of each campaign.

Before you go - recommended further reading

The best email marketing campaigns have a solid understanding of behavioural marketing behind them.

If that’s a new term for you, the following guide will act as the perfect introduction to something which will help you achieve ultimate success with your email marketing.

Read More: What is Behavioural Marketing?

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