driving direct bookings through email marketing

Focusing on driving more direct bookings has become a topic of great debate in the hospitality industry this year.

Owners and operators alike are determined to focus efforts not only on managing the top-line revenue their strategies drive, but also optimizing the profitability for their hotels.

For insight on the latest trends and email marketing best practices that help hotels drive more direct business and profitability to that bottom line, I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Erica Rich, hospitality marketing specialist at Revinate.

BM: Erica, as the industry continues to address the importance of driving more direct bookings, where should hotels focus in regards to email marketing to support that strategy?

ER: Email marketing is one of the most powerful channels for driving direct bookings, and yet it’s also one of the most overlooked. I find that so often, hotels focus the majority of their marketing dollars on acquiring new guests. And in doing so, they neglect a major revenue stream that can be pursued at a much lower cost – their past guests.

Email marketing allows hotels to communicate with their past guests at precisely the right time throughout their journey – i.e. prior to arrival, while on property, post check-out, so on and so forth. Additionally, hotels have so much valuable data on their past guests that they are able to send extremely tailored messaging to this group all designed to drive direct bookings.

BM: What advice can you give on email marketing best practices? What are the best days for sending, what should a subject line say, how long should an email be, etc.?

1. First and foremost, manage your sender reputation. Every domain and IP address is assigned a Sender Score based on the sender’s trustworthiness. If the sender score is low, then mailbox providers (i.e. Gmail, Hotmail, etc) will block the sender’s email from being delivered.

Sender Scores are based on a variety of factors including bounce rates, spam complaints, content and engagement. So basically, if you want to have a high score, make sure you’re sending to a clean list and are sending offers that your recipients genuinely care about. A hotel can check its Sender Score by visiting www.senderscore.org.

2. Keep subject lines short and C.U.R.V.E.(y). People are busy and inboxes are jammed pack. So it’s important to keep subject lines compact yet powerful. We recommend keeping them under 50 characters. C.U.R.V.E is a formula created by Alex Williams, the creative director & digital strategy director at Trendline Interactive, who spent years writing and testing email subject lines.

It stands for Curiosity, Urgency, Relevancy, Value and Emotion. If a subject line includes at least two of these elements, it has a much greater chance of being opened, according to Mr. Williams’ years of research.

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