Email Marketing for Hospitality

Hints & tips for Email Marketing for Hospitality


Paul West

E’s Are Good!

Hopefully that’s caught your attention, because the E’s I’m talking about are Email, the key communication tool that every hospitality business should be utilising on a regular basis.

As I’ve mentioned in previous editions of Eat Out, your website is a sales conversion hub that you drive traffic to from various sources. Some of that traffic comes from search engines such as Google or from other websites and is primarily people who are actively looking for what you provide. Alternative, additional traffic can be pushed to your website by putting a message in front of them even if they’re not currently actively looking for what you provide. Marketers have been using direct techniques for decades, but email holds the additional benefit of allowing the recipient to immediately make a booking with just a couple of clicks of a mouse and is accurately measurable.

Build a List

Marketing emails are considerably more effective if they are sent to people who are generally interested in what you provide, or who are already aware of your brand. For this reason it is important to build your own email list. Lists can be developed in various ways such as by using feedback cards, running competitions and implementing vouchers and flyers with offers only redeemable with email address included. When using these collection techniques it’s essential that you provide a tick box allowing people to opt in or out of promotional emails. Also, ensure your reservation process always asks for an email address and although you might not get it every time, many people will provide it.

Once you have a good email list you can send them engaging, suitable and well-designed emails. A good marketing email should have a headline offer or promotion that captures the attention of your audience. A powerful image helps to draw the eye and the headline text should boldly state the primary promotion on offer.

Hook, Line & Sinker

Your subject line is key in determining the percentage of people who open the email, called the Open Rate. A good open rate is around 25% with the average about 15%. If you’re offering a great promotion make sure it is clear in the subject line, something like “25% off all food” works best, even if the promotion is only for Monday-Tuesday, you can explain that once people have opened the email!

The other critically important design element is the call to action. With email this should be a ‘book now’ button or something similar. You want to encourage people to continue using the same media to convert to a sale, in this case online. So the email should sell in the promotion and encourage click-throughs to the website. The website must then convert this click-through to a sale using an online booking system. This process means that within 2 or 3 clicks of a mouse and in less than 30 seconds, somebody receiving an email can make a booking which helps to generate a high return on your investment.

Good email marketing software will provide you with a wide range of statistics and information to assess the ROI and effectiveness of the campaign. Good software can also sometimes provide you with lists of people who have opened the email or clicked on links, ranking recipients by the number of links they’ve clicked. This creates a ‘hot list’ of people who are particularly interested in what you do which you can then use to target more precisely. This technique is particularly effective for business-to-business communications as you can test the water with an email then follow up the ‘hot list’ with a phone call to those people who are clearly interested.

If you don’t use it already I strongly recommend that you incorporate email communications into your marketing mix. Send people messages or offers that will encourage them to act immediately and you will be rewarded with one of the best returns on any marketing communication technique

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