Published on
January 17, 2024

Unlocking the Power of Email Marketing for Your Hotel or B&B

In the digital age, connecting with your guests effectively is crucial for the success of your hotel or B&B. And when it comes to the most potent and profitable digital channel for guest engagement, there's a clear winner: email marketing! Email marketing boasts an astounding ROI of €38 for every €1 invested, surpassing other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Ads. But the beauty of email marketing is that it's not just for major hotel chains – even independent hotels, B&Bs, and various forms of accommodations can harness its potential to attract both local and international guests.

Here's a compelling fact: many guests prefer email as their preferred communication channel, with millennials leading the pack at a staggering 73% preference for email! These statistics demand action. Email marketing is the ideal way to inform your (potential) guests about their stay, your offerings, and services. So, what exactly is email marketing, and how can you use it to boost your guest engagement?

Understanding Email Marketing

Email marketing revolves around guiding your guests through their "guest journey." This journey encompasses various phases, from selecting their stay to post-checkout experiences. The primary goal of email marketing is to move your guests to the next phase of their guest journey. Beyond its impressive ROI, email marketing offers numerous advantages:

  • Building brand awareness and engagement.
  • Increasing sales and revenue through additional services (upselling).
  • Encouraging repeat guests and fostering trust.
  • Securing more direct bookings.
  • Attracting new guests.

To effectively implement email marketing, let's break down the guest journey into six phases: inspiration, research, reservation, pre-arrival, on the property (check-in), and post-stay (check-out). We'll divide these phases into pre-reservation (potential guests) and post-reservation (confirmed guests) email marketing strategies.

Crafting Your Email Sequence

By systematically deploying this email sequence, you ensure that your guests are well-informed, reducing the need to address repetitive questions. Here are the key email phases:

Reservation Phase – Confirmation Email

The confirmation email is sent immediately after the guest makes their reservation. It should include essential reservation details, the exact address (don't forget the Google Maps link), and contact information. You can enhance it with extensive information about your accommodation and your local recommendations. This email is the cornerstone of your email flow, ensuring clarity and minimizing confusion. It's almost guaranteed that your guest will open and read this email, often right away, with an impressive 72% open rate.

Pre-Arrival Phase – Pre-Arrival Email

This email aims to excite your guests about their upcoming stay. Provide practical information like directions, contact details, check-in time, parking, and additional tips and suggestions for things to do and see. Send this email 2-3 days before check-in – it's the perfect time for upselling opportunities. Guests are already preparing for their trip, making them receptive to offers such as bike rentals, breakfast, parking, champagne, an extra night, or special packages.

On-the-Property Phase – On-the-Property Email

Begin with a warm welcome in this email and reiterate practical information (Wi-Fi code, non-smoking policy, honesty bar usage, taxi details, etc.). This email is crucial for guests who don't receive a personal check-in (e.g., late arrivals).

Post-Stay Phase – Post-Stay Email

This is the ideal moment to request feedback and reviews for your website, Google, Tripadvisor, or OTA platforms (Booking.com, Airbnb, Expedia, etc.). You can leverage the guest's positive sentiment after an excellent stay to offer a voucher for their next visit or to share with a friend, encouraging direct bookings. It's also an opportunity to highlight upcoming campaigns, such as year-end packages, discounts during quiet months, or local events.

Additional Recommendations for Potential Guests

Don't miss the chance to orient potential guests toward your accommodation earlier in their guest journey. Use your email database strategically by sending periodic emails to former and potential guests, keeping your accommodation top of mind during the inspiration and research phases. Consider offering travel inspiration, announcing events, advertising packages, or promotions.

Practical Tips for a Successful Email Campaign

  • Send emails from a specific, personalized sender to increase the open rate.
  • Craft a compelling subject line – 47% of email recipients decide to open or delete emails based on the subject line.
  • Keep it short (6-10 words is optimal).
  • Generate curiosity.
  • Create a sense of urgency (e.g., limited offers).
  • Use the guest's name.
  • Avoid excessive punctuation (!!!!!).
  • Ensure your email contains:
  • A clear headline.
  • Accurate, informative content.
  • A call to action.
  • Contact information.
  • SPAM compliance measures.
  • Address and anticipate important themes or issues (e.g., COVID, parking concerns, disruptive events).

Designing Effective Emails

  • Ensure the email layout is clear, direct, and reads like a personal conversation.
  • Stay true to your branding, maintaining a formal or informal tone as appropriate.
  • Include a clear central message.
  • Keep it concise.
  • Optimize for mobile viewing since over 55% of emails are read on mobile devices.

Embracing Email Automation

Now that you have the perfect emails ready to send at precisely the right moments, you might realize that manually sending them each time would be quite a task. That's where email automation comes in handy. Check if your CMS (Channel Manager Software) or PMS (Property Management Software) offers automation based on email templates. Most PMS and CMS systems provide this functionality. Alternatively, you can use specific email marketing software providers like Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, or SendinBlue. Ensure that each email is personalized to the guest (name, dates, etc.) through coding to avoid generic messages. Automated emails also tend to have fewer errors since they use the guest's inputted data.

Conclusion

Implementing a well-thought-out email marketing campaign is essential for the success of the guest journey, which significantly influences your guests' experiences. Your email strategy should be well-timed, factually accurate, and automated. Gone are the days of answering dozens (or hundreds) of emails and calls daily. Email flow saves you time and boosts revenue.

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