Email marketing remains one of the most effective digital marketing channels for hotels to nurture relationships with existing and potential guests.
When done correctly, email campaigns encourage engagement, boost conversion rates, drive revenue growth, and enhance the guest experience. With the right strategies in place, any hotel can design emails subscribers look forward to opening, clicking, and acting upon to fuel brand loyalty and on-property spending.
Utilize these 11 email marketing best practices for the hospitality industry to grow your guest database, increase on-property revenue, and better serve patrons during each step of their journey with your hotel.
Why Hotels Should Use Email Marketing
Email marketing delivers an exceptional return on investment for hotels compared to other digital channels. On average, email marketing earns $44 for every $1 spent, generating nearly 4x higher returns than social media ads.
Beyond the direct revenue gains, effective email campaigns provide hotels with unique opportunities to foster loyalty, facilitate personalized interactions, and gather crucial guest data to enhance the customer experience.
With messages boasting higher open and click-through rates than promotional calls or texts, email simply offers the best means to nurture relationships on guests’ terms. Whether targeting loyalty members, recent visitors, or prospective bookers, personalized and well-timed emails enable hotels to cost-effectively inspire bookings while serving patrons long after checkout.
1. Collect Emails at Booking and Check-In
The first critical step for effective hotel email marketing entails capturing guest email addresses, both at the time of initial booking and upon front-desk check-in. Early in the reservation process, encourage guests to opt into receiving marketing emails by promoting special sign-up incentives.
These may include bonus loyalty points that unlock express check-in/check-out, dining credits for on-property restaurants, spa service discounts, early pool access, or even exclusive promotional offers that subscribers gain first access to.
Make the email subscription process quick and seamless by integrating sign-up forms directly into your online reservation system, from third parties like Booking.com, as well as the check-in portal used at the front desk.
Train all front desk and customer service staff to consistently prompt email address collection during each new guest’s arrival and check-in interaction. Empower staff to briefly explain the value propositions of your email communications, highlighting the unique perks, access, and tailored offers subscribers can unlock by opting in.
Consider even offering an immediate incentive in exchange for sign-ups, such as an instant coupon code or loyalty points boost usable toward their current stay. This further entices permission-based communication that enables more personalized interactions with future marketing emails.
Develop company guidelines and staff training practices to make email capture an automatic and consistent part of arrival formalities, rather than an afterthought. With thorough email collection procedures engrained at all guest touchpoints, hotels can foster much larger and higher-quality subscriber lists.
These subscriber bases then facilitate ongoing nurturing conversations with all past visitors to inspire repeat visits and referrals over their lifetime value with your brand.
2. Segment Your List by Guest Type
Once you’ve optimized collecting guest emails, segment your growing subscriber list based on guest types and behaviors.
Create separate groups for frequent loyalty members, first-time guests, and past visitors who have not returned recently. Tailor the content and offers within emails for each group’s unique needs and interests.
For example, loyalty members may receive early access to room upgrade promotions, while first-timers could get priority notifications for spa or restaurant openings.
Segmenting also allows timely triggers, like sending feedback surveys right after stays or re-engagement messages to reactivate disengaged subscribers.
When emails speak directly to subscribers based on their relationship with your brand, rather than one-size-fits-all blasts, response rates significantly improve. Define clear segmentation parameters and automate groups for more personalized, effective communications.
3. Send Pre-Stay Emails To Build Excitement
Make future guests feel valued even before arriving on the property by sending pre-stay emails leading up to their confirmed reservation. Send initial messages immediately after booking thanking patrons and highlighting any pre-arrival perks they can activate through their member preferences dashboard.
Follow this 1-3 weeks before arrival with additional emails underscoring exclusive hotel features or local attractions they may enjoy.
These may preview dining outlets, spa treatments, nightlife options, area museums, shows, and your convenience services. This serves to get travelers excited for their impending trip while showcasing special aspects that make your property shine.
Go above and beyond with surprise room upgrades or food and beverage credits as pre-arrival gifts for first-time or loyal guests. Delivering perks and hotel sneak peeks early fosters anticipation and goodwill pre-visit.
4. Trigger Post-Stay Surveys for Feedback
Actively solicit guest feedback post-stay while the experience remains top of mind through email-distributed surveys. Create brief satisfaction questionnaires tailored to different subscriber segments that evaluate overall satisfaction plus department-specific ratings on rooms, food, amenities, and service.
Automate sending survey links within 24 hours after checkout when reviews are most candid yet constructive. To encourage participation, offer modest incentives like future hotel credit for those completing.
Monitor survey data to continually improve operations, then follow up with thank you emails to reviewers emphasizing how feedback helps elevate stays. Seek input from both first-time and repeat visitors to gauge where to refine.
Positive reviews also gain permission to use for testimonials, while constructive suggestions better meet patron needs. Keep the feedback and improvement cycle going through post-stay surveys.
5. Create Loyalty Programs With Exclusive Deals
Leverage email as your go-to mechanism for providing members a sneak peek at perks, exclusive deals, and members-only flash sales within your hotel loyalty or rewards program. Promotional emails targeting loyalty subscription groups highlight your outreach directly to repeat and high-value guests who have opted into program communications.
This first and foremost serves to draw attention to your loyalty program’s unique value propositions from the start, seeding benefits that inspire enrollment from newly acquired email addresses.
Once subscribers join the program, regularly showcase special room rate discounts, double points promotions across different spending categories, or redeemable loyalty credits exclusively available through the program.
- Create member-specific offers that reflect tiered status levels like wine tastings upon arrival, spa credits, resort fee waivers, space-available upgrades, or late checkout exclusively for gold or platinum subscribed participants.
- Strategically announce seasonal member promotions as well, such as bonus summer points packages, and member appreciation months where loyalists earn and redeem at accelerated rates all month long, or during shoulder seasons to inspire visits during lower demand weeks.
- Consider rolling out dedicated loyalty-focused emails or full loyalty program newsletters on a monthly or quarterly basis that provide a digest of the latest member offerings.
- Maintain a consistent yet varied content schedule that gives subscribers compelling reasons to open, read, and engage in each communication, knowing your emails reliably advertise deals for being a loyal member.
Perpetuate program enrollment, elevated status attainment, and redemption engagement through email channels for continual patronage and customer lifetime value, nurtured directly with subscribers of your choosing.
6. Send Special Offers for Birthdays and Anniversaries
Build lasting connections with email subscribers by acknowledging important calendar moments like birthdays and anniversaries.
During the guest registration and hotel check-in process, train staff to identify and record any upcoming birthday, anniversary, or other personal dates of significance for members of the travel party.
Then, load this date data to subscriber profiles so your email platform can automatically trigger customized offers keyed to those milestone events when they arrive the following year.
- For birthdays, this may include exclusive room rate discounts, a complimentary bottle of bubbly upon arrival, dessert vouchers for on-property restaurants, or bonus loyalty points as a gift.
- Anniversary email promotions could feature champagne packages, rose petal turndown service, couples massages at your spa, private dining arrangements, or tickets to shows on-property.
- Tailor the promotional offer based on prior guest preferences, travel party size, and composition, room type historically booked, and any on-property amenities used during past visits.
Regardless of the deal specifics, the overarching intent is acknowledging a special occasion completely unprompted. This reminds loyal guests that your hotel brand genuinely cares about them as individuals who matter beyond a simple transaction.
Well-timed recognition grounded in personal details rather than a generic season greetings blast earns major guest goodwill. It also strongly inspires subscribers to return to your property on those same milestone dates in future years, strengthening repeat visits and overall loyalty.
7. Share Local Attractions and Partnerships
Help guests better experience the destination beyond your property by sharing insider knowledge of can’t-miss local attractions and area happenings customized to subscriber travel dates.
For example, email comprehensive yet concise “insider’s guides” spotlighting top nearby restaurants, entertainment venues, nightlife hot spots, family activities, arts and cultural events updated every season.
Highlight special happenings like food festivals, parades, or farmer’s markets coinciding with existing reservation spans that offer immersive ways to experience the locale.
Additionally, consider partnering with local tourism groups, vendors, and destination management companies to gift or discount bundled deals and activity passes. These encourage patronizing neighborhood businesses and regional attractions through your hotel as trusted curators.
Offers may encompass food tours, museum passes, miniature golf, amusement parks, city tours, and so much more.
Essentially, become brokers of fond guest memories, not just great hotel stays. Wherever possible, negotiate early ticket access, reserved space for hotel guests, or subscriber-exclusive discounts to premium experiences as a further incentive to book longer stays that lend more opportunity to embrace all the exciting aspects your destination offers.
8. Utilize Retargeting Ads to Previous Guests
Even guests with lapsed on-property visits still offer immense reactivation potential through retargeting ads.
Start by installing tracking pixels on your website and reservation system which drop cookies on site visitors’ browsers, tagging past guests and website visitors into pools for future ad outreach.
Then through programmatic advertising platforms, target subscribers who previously booked at your hotel but have not returned recently via highly visible display ads across their other online touchpoints.
Carefully craft ad copy and promotional offers aiming to spark positive recall of their prior on-property experiences while pitching incentives to revisit. Bid aggressively to serve ads on travel publisher sites, search engines, social networks, entertainment outlets, and more to keep your hotel brand and location top of mind.
Test alternate images, taglines, and value statements catering creatively to different guest segments for optimal response and reactivation rates.
Continuously track ad conversions to estimate subscriber lifetime value and optimize approaches over time. For typically under $10 CPM (cost per thousand ad impressions), retargeting fuels brand recollection and reignites relationships with nominal spending compared to acquiring fully new customers.
9. Test Different Calls-to-Action
Each hotel email should contain clear calls-to-action (CTAs) that provide subscribers with obvious next steps to drive conversions, whether booking packages, claiming offers, or sharing feedback. To determine which CTAs perform best, continually A/B test alternate text, design placement, color schemes, and phrasing.
For example, contrast a bright red “Book Now” CTA against a subtle “Check Room Availability” option. Similarly, test top-placed CTAs against those embedded closer to email content.
Track open and click-through rates for every variation to gauge impact. Survey mailing list segments to identify phrases and offers most likely to motivate desired actions from each group.
Refine email CTAs over time based on performance data, subscriber feedback, and competitive practices to optimize response. Remember CTAs serve clarifying subscriber next steps, not purely driving immediate sales, so offer options like “Explore Summer Deals” or “Share Your Experience” too.
10. Ensure Mobile Responsiveness
With over 50% of all emails now opened on mobile devices, ensuring responsiveness across smartphones and tablets is mandatory for hotels to drive guest engagement. Start by avoiding cramped text, small touch targets, or requiring excessive zooming that frustrates mobile users, instead streamlining key content.
Confirm your templates showcase vital information, calls-to-action, and navigation “above the fold” without forcing extensive scrolling to find what matters most.
- Check rendered designs on all major mobile operating systems and confirm ease of use within the most popular email apps your subscribers utilize.
- Tweak commonly used template elements like navigation menus, promotional graphics, or calls-to-action to convey significance at a glance while retaining fingertip usability for tapping or swiping.
- Enable mobile swipe gesture support to ease message-to-message navigation as well.
Continually test across devices yourself, gather mobile usability feedback directly from patrons, and monitor analytics to refine responsiveness over time. With mobile-rich email experiences that feel effortless, guests access offers, book rooms, or share experiences conveniently from anywhere when motivation strikes.
11. Track Open and Click-Through Rates for Optimization
Constantly track email open rates, click activity, browse abandonment, and unsubscribe metrics to pinpoint effectiveness. Monitor performance by segment, device type, and message category to isolate strengths versus improvement areas.
For example, highlight send times, subject lines, and personalized content that lift open rates from each group for replication. Spot reoccurring links, layout issues, or confusing calls-to-action dragging down interactions and streamlining appropriately. Set clear email success benchmarks and leverage insights to continually refine subscriber engagement.
Evaluation through data also enables prioritizing high-performing segments for additional investment while pruning groups that remain unresponsive over time. Let data guide email best practices for layouts, personalization, and timing while quantifying program ROI.
With regular analytics reviews, identify and double down on subscriber preferences for peak relevance as you expand lists. Measure to continually uplevel influence and enablement.
Email marketing presents hotels with a pivotal means to build loyalty among guests by fostering personalized, value-driven communications on their terms.
Optimizing email capture, designing mobile-friendly messaging, and tracking engagement metrics collectively strengthen relationships with even casual patrons. Once converted to loyal subscribers, targeted promotions inspire repeat visits, brand retention between stays, and amplified lifetime value over time through nudging by neglect.
Ultimately elevating the guest experience both on and off-property should steer all hotel email programs, keeping individuals at the center regardless of their booking history. Leverage these subscriber-first best practices as core pillars for email success.