Hotel Email Marketing: The Only Guide You Need

This handy email marketing guide will help you create the best hotel emails for your small or independent hotel.

Hotel marketers, here’s why your brand can’t live without email campaigns

I’ve previously written extensively about the benefits as well as difference between email campaigns vs newsletters.

Rather than rehash that information, I’d like to begin this blog post by sharing some important hotel email marketing statistics with you instead.

These must-know stats show you the advantages of email marketing specific to the hotel industry.

They also set the stage for everything we’re going to talk about in this concise guide to email marketing for hoteliers.

  • Email marketing is budget-friendly (and much cheaper than pay-per-click ads).
    Every $1 spent on email marketing can generate a sizable return of up to $51.
  • It does a better job at converting readers.
    The conversion rate of email marketing is 3 times higher than social media.
  • Email is still everyone’s preferred communication channel.
    Approximately 77% of consumers would rather receive marketing messages by email rather than direct mail, social media, or phone.
  • It’s better at acquiring new customers.
    Email is 40x more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.
  • Subscribers are often after great deals.
    Regardless of industry, 80% of those who sign up for brand emails do so for the discounts and special promotions.

It goes without saying that email campaigns have earned an important place in every hotel’s marketing strategy!

Hotel emails: The three types of campaigns

Guests that stay at your hotel expect to receive three types of emails from you. Let’s explore what those are.

1. Transactional emails

These are automatically triggered and get sent whenever a transaction with your hotel occurs. In this case, that can be when someone makes a booking, a few days before a guest’s arrival, when someone makes a purchase for additional hotel services, or even when someone checks in or out of the property.

Here are some examples:

  • Booking confirmation with the details of the guest’s stay such as arrival date, number of nights, room type and rate as well as any other inclusions;
  • Pre-arrival email with hotel information such as check-in and check-out times, airport transfer details, weather forecast and other useful destination-specific information;
  • Post-departure emails to thank guests, ask them for their feedback or to rate / review their stay, and with an invitation to sign up for future marketing mails.

2. Operational emails

These are important emails that keep guests updated of crucial information related to their stay. That could be to inform the guest of any changes to their booking (e.g. room type, travel dates, etc.) or to relay valuable announcements worth knowing.

Announcements can cover topics such as inclement weather or emergencies as well as local developments that could impact their stay such as transportation strikes, demonstrations, etc.

3. Promotional emails

This needs no introduction. They are the marketing emails you send out during and after a guest’s stay at the property. Promotional emails include sweets deals and offers like:

  • Free room upgrades;
  • Discounts;
  • Special packages;
  • Events;
  • And attractions that may be of interest to the customer.

The right way to build your hotel’s email list

Subscribers are high-quality leads because they’ve chosen to receive your news, updates, and special offers.

In other words, these people actually want to hear from you—and may eventually end up booking with you!

But here’s the thing: there’s a right way to build your hotel’s email list and then there’s the wrong way to go about it, like taking shortcuts and buying contact lists.

If you want to get the most out of every email you send, you must first have a good list of subscribers to send marketing messages to.

Here’s how to do that.

1. Make it easy for visitors to opt in to your newsletter

That means placing the opt-in call to action in a strategic location on your website. That is, where people can quickly spot it or where they expect to find it.

2. Keep it simple

The best sign up forms don’t require copious amounts of personal information. Most of the time, an email address is all that is required. They also don’t take more than a few seconds to complete.

3. Use the double opt-in feature of your email marketing provider

Double opt-in simply refers to sending a confirmation email requiring the recipient to click on a unique link to confirm that they’re signing up for your marketing messages.

4. Make an offer readers can’t refuse

Your audience ought to be convinced that signing up for your hotel email campaigns will be worth it, which is why it makes sense to highlight subscriber-only benefits. For instance: discount codes or priority access to special offers.

5. Ask for personal preferences

If you know what your audience is interested in, then you can send relevant hotel email marketing campaigns that compel them to take action.

Consider including a few non-intrusive questions about their preferences during the sign up or booking process. You can then use that information to segment subscribers accordingly.

For example:

  • Whether the stay is for business, leisure, or bleisure;
  • Allergies or dietary restrictions;
  • The type of content they’d like to receive: promotions & offers, discounts, destination stories & events, hotel news;
Screenshot of Rosewood Hotel's email sign up page, which gives subscribers the option to choose their interests.
Rosewood Hotel’s email sign up page gives subscribers the option to choose their topics of interest

6. Maintain your list

If subscribers are no longer interacting with your emails, then it’s a good time to send a re-engagement campaign. Similarly, if there are invalid email addresses or unresponsive subscribers even after re-engagement, then it might make more sense to remove them from the list entirely. Focus on the quality of your subscribers rather than the quantity!

7. Make it easy to unsubscribe

Remember how you didn’t want to overwhelm people with a complex opt-in process? The same applies to opting out. Make it super easy for people to unsubscribe – preferably with just one click.

Unhappy subscribers (and those who simply don’t want to receive your emails anymore) shouldn’t be held hostage or forced to jump through hoops to stop receiving your emails.

Hotel newsletters: content ideas you can use

Whether you’re new to writing hotel newsletter content or searching for ways to improve what you have (and boost engagement), hotel email marketing examples are always useful—and welcome!

Browse through these effective email campaign ideas for inspiration.

Content idea #1: Market your destination

Want to get customers revved for an upcoming stay at your hotel? What about entice them to come back again in the future? Then you need to do more than highlight your property—you also need to market your destination!

Your hotel’s email campaigns are the perfect place to do that.

From festivals and concerts to special exhibitions and shows, there’s bound to be plenty happening in your city that you can share with readers.

The idea is to help them make plans for their visit. Write content that gets them excited and counting down the days until check in!

Tip: Maximize every email by driving traffic to your website. For example: add a call to action for subscribers to read more about that event on your blog.

Link interesting newsletter content to your website and you might just capture extra bookings!

Content idea #2: Share tips and recommendations

Here, it’s all about giving subscribers insider information to your destination.

In other words, curate tips and recommendations from a local’s perspective, so that guests have a memorable trip and get the most out of their visit.

Content can include:

  • Restaurant recommendations;
  • The coolest bars;
  • New store openings;
  • Best photo spots;
  • Where to catch awesome waves or, alternatively, quiet beaches with epic sunsets;
  • Must-try street food stalls;
  • Where to get the best artisan products in town;
  • And sample travel itineraries or even day trips (plus a link to where they can book these activities, e.g. through your hotel’s tour desk or a partner tour operator.

You get the idea! There’s a lot you can work with here to inspire readers.

Tip: You want variety and a consistent stream of suggestions. The best way to achieve that is by getting input from different members of your team.

Content idea #3: Themed tips

Is your hotel a wedding venue? What about birthday parties? Do you host meetings, conferences or other business-type events?

Whatever you offer, you can most definitely write content related to that topic.

From wedding / birthday planning tips to downloadable checklists and more – create something valuable that makes life easier for this specific segment of your email list.

Tip: This is a great opportunity to learn more about your audience. For example: You can make downloadables accessible via a landing page that requires some additional subscriber information (opt-in of course) to access the file. The information you request should help you better your marketing to that segment.

Content idea #4: Go for a culinary or F&B theme

Food tourism is serious business! I mean, who doesn’t love food, right? Take a look at these stats:

  • Around 95% of all travelers (globally) can be classified as food travelers.
  • When it comes to travel spending, food experiences are one of the fastest growing – up by 61% in 2017.
  • Almost 40% of travelers are likely to splurge on F&B experiences.
  • According to a survey, almost half of all respondents (45%) take part in at least 5 gastronomy-related activities while on vacation.

Adding food-related content to your hotel’s email campaigns can be a great way to get readers excited about your destination. And, luckily, there’s no shortage of topics to write about!

For example:

  • Must-try local foods (and where to find the best versions of them in town);
  • The local delicacies every traveler must bring back as souvenirs;
  • Unique culinary traditions;
  • The history of certain foods;
  • Recipes from your rock star chef;
  • Introduce or interview your chef and culinary team;
  • Gastronomic events at your hotel;
  • Sneak peak of your seasonal menu;
  • F&B events at your hotel (e.g. New Year’s dinners, Mother’s day brunch, wine & cheese pairings, the launch of new pastry items, etc.);
  • And culinary experiences in and around your neighbourhood.

Tip: Pair delicious stories with mouth-watering photographs for maximum impact!

Content idea #5: Promote upcoming events at your hotel

From shows to festivals, limited-edition product sales, F&B tasting events or other unique activities like glamping under the stars – if your hotel hosts special events open to the general public, there’s no better place to drum up interest and get advanced bookings than promoting it in your newsletter.

For example:

Let readers know what they can look forward to at your hotel and encourage them to book in advance, so they don’t miss out!

Tip: Don’t forget to invite readers to book their table, make a reservation or reserve their items now – while they’re still available!

Content idea #6: Take readers behind the scenes

Here’s another great theme that will give you plenty of material to work with!

Among others, here are some topics to write about:

  • The history of your property;
  • Architectural highlights;
  • The pieces of art on display at the hotel and information about the artist;
  • And an inside look at renovation work.

Whether it’s a day in the life of a certain team member (head chef, concierge, gardener, housekeeping) or a peek behind the scenes of the work that goes into creating your unique brand of service, there’s always a story worth telling—and sharing with subscribers. 

Tip: Turn your blog posts into newsletter material and even video content!

Content idea #7: Special offers, promotions, discounts

This is really self-explanatory: everyone loves a sweet deal!

Whether it’s low-season offers, seasonal promotions, limited-time-only packages, or other discounts, you’re bound to have special offers that you’ll want to share with your subscribers.

Tip: Plan in advance, so your promotional email marketing campaigns go out in a timely manner. Otherwise subscribers may not have enough time to actually avail of them—unless it’s a last-minute offer.

What should you keep in mind when creating email campaigns?

How do you create a successful e-newsletter for your hotel? Here are the top takeaways to guide your hotel’s content creation.

  • A great newsletter isn’t solely focused on marketing the hotel—it’s contents should be useful to the reader. Your audience should derive value from what you send them otherwise your message is just junk mail.
  • Your newsletter’s success hinges, partially, on the quality of your subject line. You need an eye-catching one that isn’t clickbait! It should motivate people to open up your message and read more.
  • A successful hotel email marketing campaign invites readers to do something. For example: book rooms, reserve a table, download a free city guide curated by your team or purchase an item like a gift basket of hotel goodies.
  • You’ll need high-quality, professional photographs. You can’t get away with poorly-lit photos, bad angles or deceptive imagery.
  • Don’t be a bore. Write for your audience in the style and tone that appeals to them with the information that would interest them most.