Email Marketing Tips to Upgrade Your Program to First Class
Any traveler knows there's a big difference between sitting in a middle seat in coach and stretching out in first class. When travelers are looking to do business with travel and tourism companies, they're looking for just that — a first-class experience. This should include the way you communicate with them through your marketing messages. Here are five tips travel and tourism companies can use to upgrade their marketing programs to preferred status.
Coach: Greeting subscribers with one simple message — or no message at all — during the opt-in process.
First Class: Delivering a multipart welcome series that says "Aloha!" and explains all the benefits of your program.
First impressions go a long way, which is why luxury hotels greet guests by offering to help carry their luggage, asking how they can make their stay better and providing service complete with a mint on the pillow. The same goes for your messaging program. If you toss your customers into an email program ad hoc, it's akin to them arriving at your hotel to discover that their room was double-booked and you've moved them from a penthouse suite to one with a scenic view of the parking lot. To get the relationship off on the right foot, send a multipart welcome series. Try these tactics in follow-up messages:
- highlight top destinations, local attractions and top-notch amenities;
- highlight corporate social networking sites;
- promote check-in incentives and loyalty programs; and
- invite them to update their preferences.
Coach: Using web tracking after opt-in to increase relevance.
First Class: Tracking behavior before opt-in and engaging new customers from the start.
If you're tracking your customers' behaviors on your website and using this information to send content that better suits their travel interests, you're already off to a good start. Web tracking technology enables you to connect new subscribers to actions they took on your site before opting in.
Instead of sending a generic email or one with information that the customer has no interest in, you increase your chances of connecting more quickly by sending an email designed specifically for the subscriber. For example, if you aren't using web tracking capabilities and a prospect researching vacation destinations visits your site and browses family-friendly cruise options before opting in to your weekly deals newsletter, the first email you send them may promote adults-only — missing a major opportunity. Armed with this data, however, you can entice the visitor to book by touting vacation packages guaranteed to be fun for all ages.
Coach: Sending generic pre-check-in confirmation and instructions.
First Class: Humanizing these instructions with personality and dynamic content.
Don't deliver boring content. Pack your messages with energy by using customer testimonials and reviews, employee photos, and helpful and educational personalized content. In addition, including helpful information about the recipient's travel destination can increase engagement and encourage social sharing.
Coach: What's a local check-in program?
First Class: Using local check-ins to upsell customers, provide tips and become a "virtual concierge."
Who doesn't like a little luxury and pampering? Do you have on-site services or upscale amenities you want your customers to try? With location-based marketing you can use check-ins to encourage usage of these services and amenities.
As with your email messaging mix, however, it doesn't have to be all about deals and discounts. Providing tips upon check-in about how to best enjoy a travel experience is also a smart way to engage customers. You can even use check-ins as an opportunity to become a virtual concierge. Welcome customers after they check in with some suggestions for things to do in the area, or email customers when they check in at the airport and ask if they need directions to your hotel.
Coach: Ending the relationship at the end of the trip — what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
First Class: Asking for a review, sending review confirmations and populating future emails with these reviews.
Travelers like to sound off about whether they experienced good service, and positive customer reviews can have an enormous impact on growing revenue. Despite this, many travel companies make little to no effort to encourage and use customer reviews. To help generate reviews, set up a trigger to deliver a review request message at a specified time period after a customer's stay/trip ends. You can get big results just by asking.
Don't stop there. Follow up with a review or posted notification when the review goes live. Not only does this provide another touchpoint, but it boosts your trustworthiness by providing evidence that the review is public and offers an opportunity for customers to broadcast their reviews and comments on social networks. Populate future emails with the words of your customers; it's an instant way to humanize your content.