The Ultimate Guide to Hotel Email Marketing

Hotel email marketing has become more important than ever. The cost of click- and impression-based marketing on search engines and social networks continues to rise, not just for generic terms, but also for the historically cheaper brand name terms. Email marketing remains extremely relevant and cost-effective. It has become the best permission-based outbound tool in your marketing kit, hands down. However, as with every great tool, the responsibility to use it well lies with the user.

Smart hotels and brands have moved away from the mass broadcasting of spammy emails, and are now focusing on personalized, permission-based email delivery; and they are seeing their revenues go up. It’s time for you to do the same. This is my guide to email marketing done right.

No Plan = No Revenue

Email marketing cannot be an afterthought. There is a tendency for marketing departments to devote a ton of time to their paid marketing efforts, to the exclusion of almost everything else. Since money is being spent on buying traffic, everyone is focused on getting the best return on their investment. The fact is that your permission-based database of emails is as important and relevant as any other marketing channel. Just as you plan your paid marketing spend, you should also plan your earned (permission-based email) marketing efforts. Most hotel and travel email marketing campaigns still exist as low-level items on someone’s checklist of things to do. Invariably, the marketers who put the least amount of effort into email marketing will end up using one of my least favorite sentences in hotel marketing: “It does not work for us.”

Segment or Perish

Before any effort has been put into the content and design of your email campaign, you have to do some strategic planning. The most important and very first step is to segment and define your audience. I dislike mega lists (aka, “everyone gets the same email “). So, unless your hotel is changing its name, brand, ownership, or shutting down…you have no acceptable reason to send everyone in your email database the same exact message!

I have pushed the agenda of data segmentation in the hotel industry for years, and email lists are no exception. Here is an example of how a typical hotel email database could be segmented in a full-service hotel offering food and beverage outlets, spa, and meeting space:

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