OTA commissions have doubled since 2015 — often exceeding rates of 30% to 35% for many properties. And, acquiring new customers can cost anywhere from 5X to 25X more than retaining existing ones.
The math is simple. Repeat business from direct bookings is much more lucrative than constantly acquiring new customers.
If you’d like to keep more of your hard-earned revenue, read on to discover how easy it is to recapture past guests and increase direct bookings with the power of win-back email campaigns.
What you will see here
What is a win-back email campaign?
Win-back email campaigns can easily reclaim lost business. From abandoned bookers, to past guests, to OTA users, these campaigns can turn prospective guests into loyal direct bookers.
And it doesn’t hurt to remind previous guests about the incredible experience they had at your hotel. With win-back emails, you can share the latest amenities, promotions, and events that speak directly to a guest’s interests. With this level of personalization, you’ll entice guests to book direct, while offering irresistible incentives.
Segmentation and personalization are key
An overwhelming 86% of travelers are looking for more personalized experiences during hotel stays. So, simply sending out a generic email blast to every previous guest or shopper who abandoned their cart isn’t an effective way to run a win-back campaign.
To ensure your campaigns resonate, you must include the right messages to the right guests and ensure delivery at the right time. That starts with first-party data and an integrated email marketing solution, complete with segmentation and personalization capabilities.
In fact, segmented campaigns significantly outperform non-segmented ones. They drive a 2.5X higher open rate, 3X higher click-through rate (CTR), and 73% higher revenue per recipient than non-segmented campaigns.
So, take the strategic approach, and set up automated win-back campaigns that target specific guest segments based on attributes and behavior.
Consider segmenting guests based on when in the booking process they abandoned their cart. For instance, if you have a guest that abandoned their booking late in the process, you can craft a campaign with a limited-time offer that emphasizes the urgency of booking now.
Room type or package
If a previous guest booked a suite at your hotel, you could usher them back with a complimentary upgrade. Or, experiment with highlighting features and amenities that make your suites unique, such as an in-room hot tub or private balcony.
Preferences and interests
You can use guest preferences and interests as the foundation of win-back campaigns. For example, if a guest previously booked a golf package, you can segment them as someone interested in golf. You can then create a win-back email campaign with a discounted golf package. Or you could promote local golf events and tournaments that may tempt them to return.
Maybe multiple guests from the Midwest canceled their bookings at your ski resort due to a weather anomaly. Win them back by offering a special discount to Midwest travelers on their next ski package.
If you have guests who initially booked through 3rd-party websites such as Booking.com or Expedia, they may be more price sensitive. Create a targeted campaign that includes special perks, such as free breakfast, parking, or airport transfers, that are only available to guests who book directly with your hotel.
Reason for stay
Past bookings are a powerful insight. Use those reasons for travel from previous stays to create relevant incentives that draw guests back. For instance, if a couple booked a romantic getaway package, deploy a win-back campaign. Offer a complimentary bottle of champagne with locally made chocolates upon arrival when they book their next getaway.
Guests who are traveling alone or with families, differ in terms of preferences and needs. Perhaps you’d like to attract previous business travelers to return to your hotel. You might design a campaign offering a discounted rate for midweek stays. Throw in additional perks such as free, high-speed WiFi, and late checkout to appeal to the needs of business travelers.
How win-back email campaigns establish guest loyalty
Every hotelier knows guest connections are crucial for hotel performance. In addition to reclaiming potentially lost business, win-back email campaigns are also a powerful tool for establishing guest loyalty. Why? Because they show guests that you don’t see them as just another face in the crowd. It’s personalization at work.
And of course, it’s all about the guest experience, so targeted upsells and exclusive perks should be leveraged when guests book direct. Doing so demonstrates that you understand your guest’s preferences and value their business. Plus, your guests are happy to receive these opportunities to enhance their stay. And actually, 87% of travelers are willing to pay more for specific room attributes and amenities.
Let’s say you have a previous guest who booked an ocean-view room. Imagine how delighted they’ll be to receive an email that you noticed how much they enjoyed the room and are now promoting a special package that includes an ocean view with complimentary breakfast for their next stay.
Win-back campaigns are an effective way to deliver the right messaging and upsell offers, so you can create memorable experiences for your guests. And guests will notice, fostering loyalty and helping your business grow for years to come.
Examples of successful win-back email campaigns
Now that you understand the value of win-back email campaigns, as well as the importance of segmenting and personalizing these campaigns, let’s take a look at the inspiring results.
MARRAM achieves a 65% open rate
MARRAM Hotel in Montauk, NY set up a win-back campaign in May 2022. The email contained a simple, but effective subject line, “Thank you for choosing MARRAM.” It was automatically sent to targeted guests 90 days after checkout. (It excluded guests with future bookings, of course!) This campaign achieved a 65% open rate — well above industry averages.
Hotel Das James drives 405 room nights
In November 2022, Hotel Das James in Flensburg, Germany, sent a win-back email promoting their winter holiday specials. This one-time campaign was a huge success with an open rate of 57%, a click-through rate of 11%, and an impressive 405 room nights booked.
Don’t leave money on the table
Win-back email campaigns should become a pillar of your hotel marketing strategy. If overlooked, your hotel is leaving money on the table. You’re missing out on potential revenue from direct bookings and previously abandoned bookers. And you’re missing out on the opportunity to grow a recurring loyalty base by building direct relationships with these guests.
If you’re ready to harness the unmatched earning power of win-back email campaigns, get a demo or download our guide, “The basics of hotel email marketing.”