There are many advantages of email marketing, especially today. First, many emails can be automated, which means that any hotel can have a strong email program, even if your hotel is resource constrained. Second, email drives direct bookings and doesn’t require paying third-party fees, which means that it’s the most profitable channel in your marketing mix. Finally, it’s easy to customize your messages based on the data you have in your PMS, which means that you can personalize your emails and drive better relationships with guests.
For busy hoteliers who are trying to drive revenue after a very difficult year, email can be the ticket to recovery. In lesson 14 of Revinate’s email marketing certification course, Darya Subotka, senior hospitality marketing strategist, shares standard operating procedures that all hoteliers can use to develop a strong email marketing program.
While planning out your emails, Darya encourages hoteliers to think about the journey a guest takes, from inspiration to post-stay and map emails to the stages. For example, in the inspiration phase, hotels can send we miss you, booking anniversary or happy birthday emails to get the guest thinking about traveling again. It’s easy to see how this set of emails can be automated, triggered by information in the database. Once created, these emails can be sent daily to the right audience, ensuring that you’re touching guests every day with subtle reminders to return.
Once the guest books a room, the entire pre-arrival sequence can be automated as well, from the confirmation email to the pre-arrival email, which is a great opportunity to present upgrade offers. When your marketing platform is integrated with your PMS, like Revinate is, you can be sure that upgrades are managed automatically, which means more revenue without any extra work.
When the guest arrives on property, you can trigger a welcome email to let the guest know about what to expect at the hotel, including breakfast information, outlet hours, special events and more. Here are some examples.
And, when the guest guests out, you can trigger an automated OTA winback email, a direct winback email, a thank you email and/or a loyalty email. All these emails serve to encourage the guest to come back to the hotel and to book the stay directly with the hotel. A post stay survey email can also be triggered when the guest checks out to capture feedback. For hoteliers using Revinate Guest Feedback, reviews can be syndicated to Google and TripAdvisor to drive more bookings.
Since there are many emails in the journey, Darya recommends looking at all the emails that a guest will receive to ensure that they look like they’re part of the same family and tell a cohesive brand story.
But, remember that not all emails will be automated. You will also want to send one-off campaigns. These might be seasonal or holiday emails, flash sales, staycation offers or newsletters, for example. To plan these emails, Darya suggests a monthly campaign planning document to track who should receive the emails, who needs to approve messaging and when the campaigns should be sent, according to traditional booking windows.
Today, most hotels offer packages on their websites to encourage guests to book directly with the hotel. However, these packages are often forgotten by the email marketing team. Email marketers should map the promotions to segments of the database that would be most likely to purchase. You can see an example of the offer and how to segment your database accordingly, below.
Finally, have a checklist that you follow each and every time you send an email. It will help ensure you haven’t missed any steps and will alleviate the stress associated with hitting the send button. You can create your own checklist or leverage ours, which has served thousands of hoteliers well over the last year.
But email marketing isn’t complete when the messages are sent. Rather, every good email marketing SOP needs to include performance metrics and reporting. The most obvious report you will want to include is the campaign performance report which tracks the main engagement metrics, including opens, click-thrus, bounces and unsubscribes and revenue metrics, which includes total campaign revenue, total reservations and percentage of direct bookings.
Marketers will also want to review email benchmarking metrics to see how individual campaigns are performing against each other and industry benchmarks. This report will help you continually optimize and improve, which should be the goal of every marketer.
Hoteliers will also need to know how to analyze and grow a healthy database. A healthy database is key as you look to increase your direct bookings from email marketing because you can’t send promotions to someone whose email you don’t have. As a result, SOPs should be in place to encourage the reservations and front-desk teams to aspire to collect rich guest data, including birthdays, reason for traveling, anniversary, etc. All of this data can be used to create personalized emails that drive bookings.
Looking to brush up on skills or add more accomplishments to your resume? Get Certified by Revinate in Email Marketing today. It’s free and tells the world you’re an expert.