Big Online travel agency like Cox and Kings and Thomas Cook have changed how people book vacations over the last several years. More and more consumers are taking a do-it-yourself approach to booking flights, hotels and cruises instead of relying on travel agents to find the best deal.
How does a travel agency or smaller site succeed in this climate? Through email marketing. Did you know that 63% of consumers who signed up for emails from a travel site are more likely to do business through that same site again. That’s a big percentage of business your site or agency could be diverting from the “big name” travel sites.
The Epsilon study shows that 86% of online consumers sign up for emails from travel sites in search of more special travel offers. 51% want to know more about vacation packages. Your customers and site visitors want information from you, and the deals and packages you have for them. Email marketing helps build a relationship between you and your customers that will keep them coming back to you for their trip booking needs.
A permission-based email campaign also has a great return on investment. And on top of that, it’s easy to measure your results. You can tell if your campaign is effective by looking at how many subscribers are opening your emails and clicking on your links to determine what kind of content resonates most with your customers.
Email marketing lets you proactively engage with your visitors and clients. Without an email campaign, you have to depend on your customers to remember your site and visit it when they want to book a trip or look for flights. Email marketing places you in your customers’ inboxes where they’ll see your name regularly and remember you.
Take advantage of the opportunity to connect with your clients through email marketing. This simple steps will walk you through the details for setting up your first campaign.
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Building Your Subscribers List
Build Your List Online
Whether you’re a brick and mortar travel agency or a net-based travel site, if you have a web site, a blog or social media profiles, you can build your list online. Connect with your customers and visitors by placing a web form on your site to collect their names and email addresses. The Subscribe form generator in your stayintouch account allows you to create forms with your own custom fields to gather as much information as you need to help your customers. Once you design your form and place it online, any visitor who fills out that form is automatically added to your list.
Building List Offline
Your list-building efforts aren’t restricted to online avenues only. You can build your list offline too, as you work with customers in person or advertise your travel site.
• Include information about your newsletter or travel deals in your brochures.
• Ask for permission to email your customers on any contact forms they fill out.
• If you attend travel expos, bring an email sign up sheet with you to get the names and email addresses of attendees. Bridal shows are another excellent list building opportunity – you’ll find brides-to-be who are looking for ways to save on their honeymoon expenses or destination wedding packages.
Types of Email to Send
Connecting with your customers or site visitors in the inbox relies largely on the messages you send to them. Not every email will have the same content, but your messages should have some unifying factors to help subscribers recognize you in the inbox. Establishing this kind of consistency will help your customers trust you more.
Regardless of what you’re sending, all of your emails should include the following information:
• A subject line that tells what the email is about.
• Your name, your travel site’s name, or the name of your travel agency.
• All of your contact information.
• A call to action telling subscribers how to respond.
• Pictures. Include photos of destinations you’re advertising. Feature images of hotel accommodations, show your customers exactly what they’re getting for their money.
Your remaining message content varies based on the kind of message you’re sending. The types of emails you can use in your campaign include:
1. An autoresponder (or “follow up”) series for new subscribers
2. A regular newsletter with vacation stories, hot destinations and travel tips for your subscribers
3. Occasional announcements or special travel promotions
4. Articles and travel tips pulled from your blog and connect with your subscriber
When To Send Your Emails
Consistency is the key to email marketing, but hitting your sending stride can get challenging. Unless you’re sending daily deals, you need to email your subscribers frequently enough so they don’t forget you, but not so frequently that they feel overwhelmed. If you can’t find the right balance, ask your subscribers and use their feedback to adjust your frequency.
You can also schedule your emails around holidays, seasons or events like:
• Holiday travel help. Holidays are high-volume travel times and often expensive travel times, too. Send your subscribers ways to save money or stay calm in the horde of other holiday travelers. Don’t forget holiday travel packages and promotions!
• Seasonal tips. Advertise seasonal getaways or alert your customers to peak travel times when airfare and hotel rates will cost them more.
• Industry news. What kind of developments in travel regulations will affect your customers or site visitors? Give them a heads up before they travel or book their trip.
Not all of your subscribers have the same destination in mind, or the same way of getting there. Some people like cruises. Others want a quick weekend getaway that’s close to home. Still others are very budget-conscious. You wouldn’t want to send information on a luxury cruise ship to a college student who wants to backpack across Europe on a shoestring budget.
Segmenting organizes your subscribers into groups based on their preferences to ensure that you’re sending the right deals and packages to the right people. Group your subscribers by travel interest – send emails about airline discounts to subscribers who express an interest in flight information. Send emails about luxury resorts to subscribers who want top-notch accommodations. You can also use their geographic location to send emails about flight deals originating from their nearest airport or small weekend getaways near their hometown.