Why Travel Marketers Must Publish an Email Newsletter
Think about your travel marketing budget for a minute. How much are you spending on advertising and social media campaigns each month? Now think about how much of your travel marketing budget is spent on email marketing? If you are not offering an email newsletter subscription to travel consumers you are leaving booking conversion to chance.
Driving traffic to your website is easy, but what happens when people are not ready to book now? Do not make the mistake of leaving your website visitors to fend for themselves. As you probably know, as much as 97% of your visitors will leave without completing a booking. Unless you capture and remarket to those warm leads, you are missing out on your best opportunity to convert more lookers to bookers.
Email marketing has been and still proves to be the most effective online advertising medium. Still not sure about the benefits? Read our report “Does Your Travel Business Need an Email Newsletter to Get More Bookings“ for a primer.
You may be under the impression that everyone is on social media or reachable via the Google Ad Network. Planning and booking trips is not the top reason people are hanging out on Facebook. Plus consumers are inundated with ads everywhere and all the time. Delivering opt-in messages to their inbox is still your best way to market to travelers that visited your website and are likely to book travel now or later.
Getting Started With Travel Email Marketing and Remarketing
Fortunately running an email marketing campaign is simple and costs a fraction of your online advertising spend. Email newsletter vendors provide all the tools and training you need to get started. After signing up, you can quickly add an email capture form to your website and publish a newsletter with the professionalism of the major tourism operators.
Read our reviews of the top four email newsletter providers for travel marketers to pick the best one for your travel industry requirements. There is no wrong choice since these are all established companies. However it pays to spend 30-60 minutes to research your options first and not face the hassle of swapping vendors in the future.
The email vendors differ slightly on price, newsletter design tools, advanced features, and customer support (very important). BookingCounts employs a combination of MailChimp and GetResponse, but don’t let that sway your decision. If you are given the option to sign up for a free (time-limited) trial, use that opportunity to test out the user friendliness for yourself.
2. Create a travel email marketing list (contact list or campaign name)
You must have at least one travel email newsletter list. This marketing list is for collecting the email addresses of people who visit your site and subscribe to your newsletter. Since all these email newsletter vendors are CAN-SPAM compliant (see our article on spam compliance for travel email marketing), subscribers can opt-in and unsubscribe without worry.
Create several email lists if you wish to segment your visitors and email targeted newsletters to each. You may choose to segment by tour destination, traveler demographic, business and leisure travelers, or new leads versus past guests.
3. Design a “Not Ready to Book Now” email sign-up form
Pick a template for a web “Subscribe Now” form that closely matches your travel website branding. Only require that your prospective customers share their email address to subscribe. There is no need to ask for name, when they are traveling, or other preferences, though of course that would be nice to have! It is well proven that the more required fields on a lead capture form, the fewer the sign-ups.
Your custom-designed form can be installed on your website like in the sidebar or on your pricing and booking inquiry pages. For faster implementation, have the email vendor host the sign-up page on your behalf (as a landing page) on their server. That way you only need to hyperlink to your travel newsletter subscription page from anywhere on your site. You can even link to a travel newsletter sign-up page in your social media posts and updates.
Here are some examples of B&B, tour operator, and online travel agency email newsletter sign-up forms for design inspiration.
To get the attention of visitors and encourage more sign-ups, use action text such as “Not Ready to Book Now?” or “Get a Reminder to Book Later“. Place a link to your sign-up form near the “Book Now” button so people who are not ready have a way to stay informed.
Offering freebies such as destination guides, travel deals, and exclusive offers a higher converting incentive to subscribe right away. Remember your goal is to deliver an email newsletter as a reminder to book later. You are not sending a newsletter just for the fun of it! 🙂
4. Customize the welcome message to start the booking conversation
While you must follow standards for new sign up and double opt-in via email confirmation, the welcome email is optional. However if you want to start a booking conversation right away, the welcome email is a must for travel email marketing.
When someone not ready to make a booking decision requests your travel newsletter, they are expressing their intent to consider booking later. Send them an automated but personal welcome message to start them down the booking conversion funnel. This welcome message as configured in your email campaign will be automatically sent after the sign-up and opt-in confirmation steps are complete.
In your traveler welcome email list the top reasons why you are the best hotel, tour operator, B&B, travel agency, or place to book an unforgettable travel experience. Link to your social media pages so subscribers have other ways to stay informed. Most important, link back to your “Book Now” page so recipients are only one click away from resuming their trip planning activities.
5. Publish a travel newsletter
The final step is to create a travel newsletter that you deliver on a regular schedule. Once a month is typically often enough unless your booking conversion time-frame is very short like for an upcoming event. Pick a day to write and publish your newsletter as part of your regular travel marketing activities. Use your marketing calendar to set a recurring reminder so the responsible staff member is notified on schedule.
The recommended travel email newsletter providers all offer a full array of color, layout and style templates so you do not necessarily need to hire a web designer. Select the template that best matches your website and the expectations of your target traveling customer. They can all be customized if you want to change a color there or remove a layout element there.
Here are a few travel newsletter template examples to show you how easy it is to add your own logos, text, photos, and links.
Definitely include pictures of your property, destination or travel experience just like you do on your website. Include just enough written content to entice readers to click through to keep reading and resume planning their vacation.
Are you a hotel marketing or tour marketing professional assigned the task of running an email campaign? Refer to our checklists below to be sure you follow travel newsletter best practices for email open, click-through, and booking conversion.
Email Newsletter Checklist for Hotels, B&Bs and Guest Houses
- Add the email newsletter signup (“Not Ready to Book Now?”) form or link to your room rates page, booking inquiry/enquiry page, specials page and contact us page.
- Always list your location (city, state, region, country, island) in your newsletter since your hotel name may not be instantly recognized by the recipient. Consider linking it to a map or include a small map graphic of your destination.
- Sign the welcome message with the name of your reservation staff or proprietor with a photo for a personal touch.
- Include a room booking incentive for newsletter subscribers like free breakfast, bottle of wine, or local travel guidebook.
- Remind subscribers about upcoming events and happenings in your area that require early booking.
- Write at least one short piece per newsletter about your area such as travel tips, locals advice, a Top 10 list and the reasons people visit your destination.
- Include multiple ways for people to get in touch such as web contact form, email address, phone number, Twitter handle, etc…
Email Newsletter Checklist for Tour Operators and Vacation Activities
- Add your email newsletter (booking reminder) sign-up form and links after every Book Now” button for itineraries, attractions, day tours and buying tickets.
- Highlight tours and activities that are booking up fast to create a sense of urgency to make a booking decision.
- Make sure at least 50% of your newsletter content is your tour staff offering expert travel, destination and adventure advice.
- Insert photos of your actual customers and travel experiences since a touring/adventure/trekking photo is worth a 1,000 words.
- Make it easy for subscribers to get in touch any tour or activity question. This means your newsletter reply-to address should be valid and a link to your “Contact Us” online form should be easy to find.
- Encourage subscribers to follow and interact with your social media fan pages with icons for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.
- Include company information in the email footer to promote reputation, trust and security including years in business, awards, and proof of expertise.
Next Step – Become a Travel Email Marketing Expert
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Further Reading on Travel Email Newsletters