Capture Email Bookings for Hotel & Travel Marketers – 5 Step Tutorial

Does Email Marketing Really Increase Bookings?

Email marketing is an effective way to get more hotel reservations and tour bookings later. Why is “later” so critical to your travel marketing efforts? Your direct booking website is open 24/7, but 97%+ of visitors will not book a hotel room or vacation on their first visit. So how can you target and remind visitors to return and book later?

This article will teach you how to capture email addresses before someone leaves your site without booking. You want them to come back, right? By targeting warm leads (people that are thinking about booking a room or tour) with follow-up email messages now, you can increase booking conversions later. A booking is always better late than never.

With email you have a direct way (let’s call it a “second chance”) to convince someone who wants to make a booking. Without a travel email newsletter and remarketing campaign, you’ll lose those bookings due to the forgetfulness factor. Email newsletters are a perfect fit for the travel industry including hoteliers, tour operators, tourist attraction marketers, and travel agents.

Here is evidence on how and why email is the travel marketers’ best friend.

> 91% of consumers check their email daily (ExactTarget)

> Email marketing has an ROI of 4,300% (Direct Marketing Association)

> Email is the most effective and among the least difficult digital marketing channels (Forbes/Gigaom)

The only way to launch an email marketing campaign for your tourism business is to get started today. Follow along with these 5 easy steps to create an email capture and remarketing funnel in just one day.

1. Sign up for a GetResponse Account

The first step is to choose an email marketing vendor that is a good fit for travel marketing. I’ve tried them all and tested out their capability and fit for the travel industry.

GetResponse Top Features Email Marketing

My top pick for hotels, tour operators, and travel marketers is GetResponse for an overwhelming number of reasons. They don’t call themselves the “World’s Easiest Email Marketing” for nothing.

  • Bold and colorful interface makes it easy and enjoyable to manage on both desktop and mobile.
  • Loads of sign-up forms and email newsletter templates to quickly match your tourism brand.
  • The best 24/7 customer support (chat anytime) so you can get an answer to your questions anytime you are stuck or need help.
  • Advanced features such as unlimited follow-up email auto-responders and customer surveys.
  • Competitively priced with an annual plan that saves you a huge amount over the monthly fee (be wary of “free” email vendors).
  • From my own experience and testing extensively, I find it more professional looking than MailChimp, more technically capable than ConstantContact, and more user-friendly than AWeber.

GetResponse Plan Pricing Grid

How To Pick a Travel Industry Compatible Email Vendor

If you are not sure how to choose, read my article on the top email newsletter vendors for travel and tourism marketing. It gives you a quick overview with links to sign up to whichever email service provider you prefer.

While it is possible to change vendors after you get started, it is worth the effort to choose the best one for your needs and stick with them. Once you have the email automation and booking conversion system in place, it will require little effort to keep going.

Have you signed up for your GetResponse account yet? It will be tricky to follow along with the next steps unless you do. They offer a free 30 day trial if you are not sure that you will have the time and budget to commit just yet.

GetResponse Signup Billing Form

2. Configure Your Travel Business Email Account

This is where you enter the details about your business. To engage in email marketing you must specify your physical mailing address to be anti-spam (called CAN-SPAM law) compliant. If you are a small tour operator or a travel agent that works from home, consider renting a virtual post office box in the USA. Any mail that you receive at this address can be scanned and read online or forwarded to anywhere in the world.

GetResponse Business Postal Address

Crafting the perfect subject line for your newsletter is critical to get more subscribers to open and read your emails and not click the report spam button. The FROM address is probably the next more important element to get your messages delivered and treated as important. Your FROM element should be a clear indicator that your email is welcome, expected, and urgent.

GetResponse From Email Setup

Use the “From Email Address” setting to remind your subscribers of who. That helps avoid the spam trap and to optimize your email open rates.

Send Emails FROM Your Personal Tourism Businesses

For a small or family run B&B or tour company, I recommend using a combination of your first name(s) and the name of your business. For a larger independent tourism business, your full business name is probably ideal. Keep in mind that since you are not Booking.com, Viator, or Hilton Hotels, people who receive your email will often not recognize your business name at first sight.

Is your official tourism business name generic or in a language other than English (and targeting English speakers)? Include your city, region, or country name in the “From” email address field to provide destination context.

Here are some examples of the FROM address for a hotel or tour company:

  • “Martha at Turtle Bay Inn (Vermont)”
  • “Jack & Susan @ Sonoma Valley B&B”
  • “Sunny Shores Family Resort (Sanibel Island, FL)”
  • “The Memphis Blues Boutique Hotel”
  • Allegro Montagna Pensione (Capri, Italy)

Also be sure to specify a valid Reply-To email address so that your people can hit reply to ask you a booking follow-up question. In an ideal world you and your staff should be checking your reply-to inbox at least once a day (if not more often) to close more booking conversion opportunities.

One more thing… Don’t forget to edit the description for your email marketing campaign. This description appears in the confirmation emails and manage subscription pages. Write a brief description to trigger the memory of your subscribers so they recall when and why they subscribed in the first place. This configuration screen also lets you upload a logo for your tourism business to accompany the newsletter description.

GetResponse Campaign Settings Page

Confirm with Double Opt-In?

Finally you have the choice of going with double opt-in versus single opt-in. You are surely familiar with double opt-in as it means that for every newsletter signup, a verification email is sent. In order to be added to that list the unverified subscriber must click the confirmation link in the message. This is often used to prevent spam-bots from signing up and people accidentally signing up without permission.

GetResponse Double Opt-In Options

For the small and independent hotelier, travel, or tour business, single opt-in is probably the way to go. You’ll lose fewer subscribers who fail or forget to click the confirmation link. As this is a common question for travel email marketers, be notified when this subject is covered in more detail by subscribing to the Get More Bookings newsletter.

3. Create a “Not Ready to Book Now” Subscribe Form

Your sign-up form is how you capture email addresses of website visitors who are not ready to book now. Why would they want to share their email with your tourism business? As part of planning a vacation people will visit numerous websites (as many as 38 according to this Skift article) to research and eventually book their trip.

When someone feels that your hotel might be ideal or your tour could be the perfect addition to their itinerary, they will want to bookmark your site to return later. Here is your opportunity to take hold of this booking opportunity. Get them to sign up to your newsletter in just a couple of clicks in order to receive an email reminder to return.

GetResponse Email Signup Form Wide

As you can see, there are numerous sign-up form templates to start with. Choose the one that best fits the design of your own site and tweak the fonts and colors to match. Each of the templates can be fully customized. Edit the text so the wording matches the tone of your website. Remember the goal is to ask people to subscribe to your newsletter for travel advice and as an email reminder to book later.

Travel Consumer Capture Form Fields

The default option with GetResponse is to collect each subscriber’s first name and email address. While it is typically best to ask as few questions as possible to encourage sign-ups, it may help to be on a first-name basis with your target customers.

Your newsletter and other emails will typically include each persons’ first name in the “TO” line and optionally in the greeting. This helps you to stand out as an authentic independent tourism brand run by real people. The big OTAs (online travel agency sites like Expedia and Booking.com) are faceless when it comes to emails marketing. Their slick email campaigns are sent by a large team of marketing specialists who are hiding behind the brand. Your emails are written by actual hotel staff, tour guides, and travel business owners who are passionate about providing the best vacation experience.

Edit Traveler Email Capture Form Elements

You can edit almost anything on your sign-up form to match your website and encourage more travel consumers to share their email address. You can make adjustments at any time, but for now keep it simple by taking these steps:

  • Add your travel brand logo to the top by dragging an “Image” field to the form design and uploading your logo.
  • Include a brief description of why someone should share their email address using a “Text” field.
  • Adjust the fonts, colors, and labels of each element to match your preferred style and wording.
  • Change the button text from boring “Submit” to match the action in your sign-up link (see Step #4).
  • Say that you’ll never share their email (protect their privacy) and can unsubscribe at any time.

GetResponse Hotel Tour Travel Book Later Form

4. Link to Your Book Later Sign-up Page

Now that you have a sign-up form for your hotel or travel business, you need to get it onto your website. You have two options for collecting subscribers:

  1. Text or image link to your sign-up form which will be hosted externally as a stand-alone landing page.
  2. Embed the form as an Html widget on your website placed on your sidebar or within specific pages.

For ease of implementation, web compatibility, and to keep it super simple, I recommend you start #1 – a link to your sign-up form. This form will be hosted by GetResponse or whichever email vendor you are using.

After you finish editing the sign-up form in Step #3, click the “Save & Publish” selection button at the top. This will take you to the options screen for deploying your live travel subscription form. Select the “GetResponse will host my web form” option and copy the URL to a safe place for use later.

GetResponse Hosted Signup Form Option

You’ll be linking from your website to your travel booking lead capture landing page on the GetResponse domain. You can also link to it from social media, in email response signatures, or anywhere you want to get travelers to sign up to your list.

To be clear, you won’t be inserting that ugly long URL onto your website for all to see. You’ll be editing what’s called the anchor text for the link which is what the user reads and clicks on. The actual target URL is hidden away in the Html of the hyperlink element. The wording of the link must encourage website visitors to click to sign-up so they can be reminded to book travel later.

Travel Email Marketing Call-To-Action Phrases

Here are several examples of how to word your subscribe to newsletter button. Make it match your brand while motivating leads who are intending to leave your website to sign up now.

  • Click here to Get a Reminder to Book a Room/Tour Later
  • Not ready to Book Now? Sign up for our Email Newsletter
  • Subscribe to our hotel/tour/travel newsletter for the best rates/offers/deals
  • Request Hotel/Tour Information by Email
  • Sign up for the [YOUR_TRAVEL_BUSINESS_NAME] Email Newsletter
  • Subscribe Now, Book Later
  • Request Booking Reminder
  • Exclusive Email Newsletter – Sign Up Today!
  • Get Our Expert Travel Advice by Email
  • Planning a Vacation? Request Our Newsletter.
  • Free Newsletter to Book the Perfect Vacation

Now all you need to do is link to your travel newsletter sign-up page from your website.  Since every hotel or travel website is different, follow the instructions provided by your web firm on how to edit individual pages or your site template. Your site may be custom-built, running on WordPress, or hosted by your hotel marketing firm or booking system vendor for example. Regardless, there is always a way for you to go into edit mode to insert text or image hyperlinks from your site to your signup page.

Travel Consumer Capture Points

Common places to link to your subscribe now page are on your sidebar and at the bottom in the website footer section. If your website is template based, adding a link to your sidebar or footer means that it will appear on every page automatically. Otherwise you’ll have to edit multiple pages and paste in your clickable link one-by-one. Also consider including a link from your navigation menu at the top.

Look for areas of your website where the person is likely to be making a booking decision. This might be your B&B rates page, your tour itinerary upcoming dates page, or your vacation package offers page. These exit pages are all good places to include your newsletter signup link. Your goal is to capture email addresses from booking prospects before they browse to another website. My article on exit page booking conversion optimization explains this technique.

If your site structure has a news section, add a story about your hotel or travel newsletter launch with instructions on how people can subscribe. You should spread the word to contacts in the travel industry, past guests, and via social media.

ADVANCED TIP: Get Response offers a separate “Landing Page” feature, but it costs an extra $15 per month as of the time of this article. With this powerful add-on you can create a fully featured landing page that does more than just ask for a name and email address in a box. You can design your long-form landing page to include anything you wish from a welcome letter, in-depth travel content, destination photo slide shows, virtual walk-through videos, and even more convincing reasons for people to sign up and book later.

5. Publish a Monthly What’s-New-In-Travel Newsletter

Now that you have a pathway to acquire subscribers, the final step is to promote your tourism business with a regular newsletter. Since booking tours and hotel rooms is not as frequent as buying food and clothing, publishing a monthly newsletter is my recommendation. This way your new subscribers will receive their first email within 30 days, depending upon when they signed up.

The key to travel email marketing is to provide useful content and exclusive offers in every newsletter. As a hotel or travel marketer it is in your best interest to help potential guest plan trips and make the best booking decision how they want and when they want. Your email newsletter may be your most effective way to remarket to website visitors that are likely to make a booking later.

GetResponse Travel Email Templates

Newsletter Editing How-To

The GetResponse platform offers a simple step-by-step process to edit and publish your newsletter on any schedule. The biggest decision is which template to use since that determines how many content blocks you will need to edit each time. Browse through the numerous email templates whether blank, promotional, or travel themed. Try to include at least one unique piece of destination or travel planning advice to entice subscribers to open, read, and click to your website.

The best newsletter publishing tutorial is offered by GetResponse. It covers how to edit the template, include your text content and photos, test compatibility with both desktop and mobile browsers, and target your campaign (subscriber lists) on schedule.

Solid compatibility with mobile browsers such as iPhone, Android, and Microsoft is one of the best features of GetResponse. As you have read about in the news, a majority of people are now reading email on their smart phones.

When you are editing your newsletter to offer hotel, B&B, tour, travel agency, or tourist attraction text and photos, this is what the user interface looks like. You have the editor on the left and the email content widgets to the right of the display. There are also controls at the top right for preview, send, save, and settings.

GetResponse Book Now Newsletter Editor

You can also turn on and off the mobile email preview window. Since phones have narrow screens, the preview helps you test the layout and readability on mobile devices before you click the send button.

GetResponse Book Later Email Mobile Preview

Travel in Time with GetResponse

Finally you will need to schedule the newsletter for sending out on a specific day and time. Don’t forget to take time zones into account. Fortunately with the GetResponse Time Travel feature every email is delivered at the optimal time of day based on the time zone of each recipient.

GetResponse Time Zone Email Delivery

Part of email marketing is to manage and monitor your campaigns. With the GetResponse platform you’ll see at a glance the open and click rates for each newsletter. You will also be tracking unsubscribes and bounces (email that are not deliverable) to make sure nothing is going wrong. Don’t worry too much about unsubscribes as people are bound to come and go.

Travel Email Newsletter Analytics

The best part about email marketing is viewing the charts and graphs that are automatically generated after sending each newsletter. You’ll be able to visualize how your list is growing and how email subscribers are responding to your travel newsletter content and offers.

For now stick with the pre-built reports. As you become more advanced you’ll be able to create custom reports and set up conversion goals. The latter makes it possible to track subscribers from email receipt to website click to booking engine conversion.


Has this travel email marketing article helped you to improve your hotel, tour, or travel agency booking rate? This is just the start of your training available for free on BookingCounts.com. What else can you learn? How about:

  • Retargeting past guests to get more repeat bookings and referrals.
  • Writing a travel blog to share unique and valuable destination expertise.
  • Measuring your booking conversion rate with analytics to tweak and optimize.
  • Sending welcome emails using auto-responders to create a sense of urgency.
  • Capturing more not-ready-to-book-now travelers with animated pop-up forms.
  • Promoting your booking specials and seasonal travel offers to email subscribers.
  • Using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to promote, share, capture, and target frequent travelers.
  • Finding out what to put in your email newsletter to increase engagement, clicks, and bookings.

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Disclaimer: As an official partner of GetResponse, BookingCounts may receive a fee for referring new customers. These relationships make it possible to offer free and valuable content on BookingCounts.com, so thank you so much for the support.

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