Understanding Email Marketing for Hotels

Melanie Balke
October 24, 2023

Few marketing channels compare to the reach of email marketing.

Everyone carries their phone in their pocket. We’re always connected to the internet, and — by extension — we’re always plugged into our emails. In 2022, there were 4.258 billion (yes, that’s “billion” — with a ‘B’) people checking their inboxes. For context, that’s over half the global population.

For better or worse, we’re living in a truly interconnected world.

Now, if you’re a marketer, this interconnectivity is a definite positive!

Email marketing software has come a long way since the 1980s. Today, we can take advantage of automated emails, intuitive workflows, and targeted campaigns.

More importantly, plenty of businesses are utilizing this remarkable communication channel. Open your inbox. You’re bound to see a wide range of content! These days, email marketing efforts aren’t limited to retail ventures. B2B businesses, financiers, and insurance salespeople are just some of the faces you’ll spot in the average inbox.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s blog post…

Overlapping leaves. “The Numbers: The Incredible Value of Email Marketing.” Small circles accompany statistics about email marketing.

How can hotels use email marketing?

Today’s hospitality industry must rely on technology to succeed. For many travelers, the customer journey now begins and ends online. Thus, even the most robust property management system will collapse if it relies on old-fashioned pen-and-paper bookkeeping.

So, do your business a favor and join me on this journey through the wild world of hotel email marketing.

Why Hotel Email Marketing Efforts Should Be on Your Agenda

The Los Angeles skyline. Overlaid text reads, “The Benefits: Why You Need Hotel Email Marketing.”

I’ll start with the information every business professional wants to hear: the numbers.

Email marketing for hotels is more than a craze. It’s more than a shallow promise of income. A well-developed hotel email marketing strategy is a guaranteed form of income, interest, and growth. In many ways, it’s become a standardized facet of the hotel business. Think about it! When was the last time you booked a hotel room and didn’t get a confirmation message?

Summarily, email campaigns have become an unavoidable part of the hotel industry. In the 2000s, everyone needed a hotel website. Now, you need a website, and marketing automation, and well-designed flows.

It seems like a lot of work — and it is! — but an email marketing strategy is more than a streamlined customer journey.

Email Marketing Software Is Flexible

A bed and breakfast in rural Southern Ireland. Overlaid text reads, “Flexibility: You can do so many things with an email marketing campaign!”

I’ve already touched on the outlandish reach of email marketing campaigns. (There’s a limit on how many times you can say, “Over half the world’s population has an email,” before it gets stale.)

Instead, allow me to discuss the extraordinary extensibility of email marketing.

Email Marketing as an Extension of Service

Even in its simplest form, email marketing for hotels (and in general) wears many hats. Most workers in the modern hospitality industry can easily point to the service-related functions of email marketing. Also known as “transactional campaigns,” these triggered emails boast a consistently higher-than-average click-through rate. Think of them as the bread and butter of hoteliers and email service providers.

Some of the most common service-related email campaigns include:

  • Confirmation Emails: You’ll have a hard time finding a modern consumer who trusts hotels that don’t dispatch prompt booking confirmation notices. Top-notch service can also boost direct bookings.
  • Guest Feedback: Savvy hotel marketers use digital marketing to its full potential, and transactional emails are perfect opportunities to politely request feedback!
  • Loyalty Programs: An email-based loyalty program is an advanced but highly effective form of hotel email marketing. Aside from boasting the ability to garner a great click-through rate, these emails are also effective ways to usher users through your customer journey stages.
  • Updates: Everyone understands that emergencies happen. The difference between satisfied hotel guests and irate customers is information.
  • Upselling: On a more positive note, the high click-through rates of transactional campaigns make them the perfect place to push for an upsell. Suggest room upgrades, inform visitors of upcoming events, and reward loyal customers in one of the most relevant email campaigns — the confirmation message!

Promotional Uses for Hotel Email Marketing Campaigns

Of course, the customer journey isn’t the only beneficiary of a well-devised hotel email marketing strategy. 66% of businesses wouldn’t use a system that only offers warm fuzzies; you still need to make money, after all.

Don’t worry! Email marketing for hotels can handle your financial needs, too. Promotional emails come in many shapes and sizes, although the wildly popular retail variants are poor fits for workers in the hospitality industry. Nonetheless, there are plenty of ways to use email marketing tools to amp up your hotel revenue!

Just check out these common ways to leverage email marketing for hotels as a means of financial gain:

  • Multimedia Tie-Ins: On the surface, hotel email marketing campaigns are an easy spot to promote social media posts. But don’t stop there! Use that customer engagement to your advantage by soliciting some sweet, sweet user-generated content (UGC).
  • Newsletters: A subset of informational marketing, these email marketing campaigns can delight prospective, future, and existing guests.
  • Personalized Emails: Pair these multifunctional campaigns with a compelling subject line and marvel at the resulting spike in customer engagement!
  • Unique Offers: Targeted marketing materials are great ways to boost bookings and encourage higher click-through rates. Clever subject lines and copywriting sweeten the deal, turning otherwise annoying marketing automation into wholesome ways of “inviting” guests to sample your additional services.
A San Francisco pier at night. “Function: The Many Uses for Hotel Email Marketing.” Various uses for email campaigns are listed, including pre-arrival emails, check-in notices, and applications of various email marketing tools.

Make Successful Email Marketing Work for You

Now, you may be thinking, “This is great, but it doesn’t really explain why 79% of marketers rank email marketing as one of the most important driving forces in their business’ success.”

That’s a fair point!

Like most things in business, an email marketing strategy doesn’t guarantee success. Bland subject lines and lackluster marketing efforts are common factors behind fantastic financial flops. Even the best email marketing platform can’t save you from a creative drought.

So, it’s time for a reality check-in!

You need a coherent, cohesive message to have any chance of establishing a successful email marketing strategy. In the most general sense, this means you’ll need designers, writers, and visionaries. But you also need goals.

Fortunately, hotel email marketing is mind-bogglingly flexible. There are as many possible goals as there are ways to delight your email subscribers! While I can’t list every possible goal, I can offer a few ideas. Some of the most common business goals for hotel email marketing campaigns are…

  • Brand Awareness: Raising your brand awareness may not be an obvious choice, but it’s one of the most logical long-term investments to make as you plan your hotel marketing emails. Your email subscribers are your target audience, so cater to them! Make sure your hotel is the first thing they think of when they’re planning a trip!
  • Lead Generation: Get even more from an email campaign by promoting your sign-up form. These campaigns are often tied to a loyalty program.
  • Marketing Metrics: Click-through rates, engagement, and spam complaints are just a few of the metrics a brand may want to improve.
  • Monetary Goals: These are obvious targets. Countless examples of marketing for hotels can be linked to increasing ROI or boosting customer lifetime values. This is just a given!
  • Sales Funnels: Longer sales cycles don’t have to be a source of doom and gloom. Get past guests excited for their next stay with delightful post-stay emails. Alternatively, you can wow potential customers with lists of local attractions and relevant campaigns.
  • Web Traffic: A great email should lead to a sparkling landing page. Make every step of the journey count by polishing every part of your email campaign!

What the Hotel Industry Needs to Know About Email Marketing

Speaking of strategy, it’s time to dig into the technicalities of this promising marketing channel.

While it’s true that email marketing is a remarkably lucrative endeavor, you can’t charge headlong into it without preparation! Like a good vacation, you’ll need planning. Otherwise, that fancy email marketing tool will become a big, shiny expense. You must master the basics before you wade into the thick, gritty details of your hotel email marketing strategy.

Worry not! I’m here to help. Sit back and relax, dear business travelers; it’s time to study the need-to-know elements of modern email marketing for hotels.

Have the Right Data

Start with the basics.

You’ll see countless hotel email marketing examples floating around, but they all share one common factor: information.

You can’t run email campaigns (of any kind!) without information. And this is especially true for the hospitality industry, where even the smallest purchases often land in the hundreds!

Think about it. How would you — as business travelers or tourists — feel if you got pre-arrival emails with someone else’s name? What about if you got news about local events for an entirely different country? Would you be confident giving a company weeks of your hard-earned pay if they sent generic welcome emails without mentioning your name?

I imagine most readers find these ideas abhorrent! They’re signs of complacency and indifference, neither of which are sparkling qualities for a hotel.

So take action. Keep your data clean and readily available!

Use That Data

You’ll use that data, too. The simplest information to maintain for your email marketing includes customer names, customer journey stages, and destinations. Obviously, you’ll also need information about your locales (e.g., local events, concerts, and common travel concerns).

However, you’ll also have plenty of additional info to juggle. Most email marketing tools allow businesses to practice segmentation, wherein emails are sent to a small group of highly specific users. When developing email marketing for hotels, this tactic is essential! You don’t want to send Belgian vacationers an update about a Hawaiian festival. And how embarrassing would it be to send that group of executives in Pigeon Forge an update about the Rose Bowl? Yikes!

Automate Your Marketing

Similarly, you don’t want to manually send out individual confirmation messages. Marketing automation gives you the power to establish triggered campaigns, which — as the name implies — are sent when users perform specific actions.

Your hotel guests are well accustomed to these email campaigns, although it’s worth reviewing the specifics. Common automated campaigns in the hospitality industry include:

  • Confirmation campaigns (which I’ve already covered)
  • Loyalty program alerts for frequent fliers and repeat customers
  • Pre- and post-stay emails to boost that coveted customer satisfaction
  • Welcome emails for new entries on your website’s sign-up form

Don’t Sweat It!

Soldiers on a crowded ship. Overlaid text reads, “Hire the Pros: Stop Worrying About Your Email Campaigns.”

At this point, I’m sure your brain’s current subject lines are something like, “This is far too much to handle!”

Fortunately, you don’t have to handle it alone!

Let us take the hard work off your hands! Schedule a free strategy session and learn how a talented team of pros at The Email Marketers can make your email marketing shine. Your designated strategic partners will give your hotel email marketing the personal, individualized attention it deserves. Never worry about content or click-through rates again; my team will handle it!

You can also take a look at my blog. I’m always updating the page with new ideas, amazing tips, and fantastic email marketing insights.