The Travel & Hospitality Email Marketer’s Playbook

White Paper

Email marketing has entered a new era of innovation, allowing the travel and hospitality industry to reach and engage consumers like never before. But consumer expectations are also high. Today, a successful email campaign takes contextual messaging and offers that speak to each customer on a personal level.

In this playbook, you’ll find examples of contextual email marketing campaigns for the travel and hospitality industry that have proven to engage customers, drive ROI and build a loyal fan base. We’ve also packed it with email tips and best practices designed specifically for today’s travel and hospitality marketers.

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The Travel and Hospitality Consumer

Mobile optimization should continue to be a priority for marketers. However, although we see more and more consumers in general engaging with email on mobile devices, desktop still remains an important factor to consider. Many travel industry email opens and conversions still happen on a desktop — 39% and 69% respectively in 2015.

1. Personalize

How can the travel industry engage their audience effectively? By using consumer data to precisely target audiences and personalize messaging. While targeting audience segments with relevant messaging has always been a priority for most marketers, using data to personalize email messaging and offers takes engagement to the next level.

You can incorporate personalized messaging about the recipient’s previous trips, loyalty points and more. This email incorporates the recipients name into the image and body copy, and also uses geo-targeting to offer the business location nearest to them.

Personalized emails have 29% higher unique open rates and 41% higher unique click rates than nonpersonalized emails.

Tip: Use progressive profiling to gather customer data that will help you take personalization to the next level.

2. Take Personalization to the Next Level with Data

In order to truly personalize your emails, you need accurate, upto-date consumer data on your subscribers. Collecting that data can be a challenge. User preference centers often have low participation rates, and the more fields a form has, the less likely it will be completed. As a matter of fact, according to QuickSprout, increasing the number of options in your form fields from three to six can decrease conversion rates by 66%.

Gamification can lead to a 100% to 150% increase in engagement.

Progressive profiling is a form of gamification using polls to continuously collect deeper insights about a consumer, while creating an engaging, interactive email experience that encourages subscribers to participate.

Giving customers an opportunity to vote for their favorite destinations, or other travel preferences, right in the email, allows you to use that data to send offers that are more relevant to them, and that they’re more likely to act on.

Tip: Phrase your poll questions in a way that will elicit a more emotional response. For example, ask what family destination their children or grandchildren would most enjoy visiting.

3. Optimize for Mobile

Although it’s still important for travel marketers to design for the email user experience on desktop, 61% of opens and 31% of email conversions for the travel industry happen on mobile devices.

Responsive design—which automatically adjusts content for screen size—is just the beginning of how emails can be optimized for mobile. Go beyond responsive design and use device detection to offer up the appropriate version of your app download file for whichever device your subscriber is using – with just once click. Oneclick actions on increase the chances subscribers will follow through, and device detection has proven to significantly increase app downloads.

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75% of people will delete an email if they can’t read it on their smartphone.

Tip: Use 16px. font for mobile devices.

4. Make Deals Relevant with Weather Targeting

The more relevant the offer is to your customer at the moment of open, the more likely they are to click-through and convert. Aim to entice consumers in cold weather locations with a trip to a tropical paradise by helping them envision the experience.

Use weather targeting to included real-time weather at the recipient’s location—wherever they open your email—and give them a peek at the weather conditions at one of your tropical destinations.

Weather targeting can increase CTRs by 39%.

Tip: Use animated gifs — like falling snow or a sparkling ocean — to add an eye-catching visual element to destination images.

5. Build a Sense of Excitement

Offer countdown timers to inspire a sense of urgency and excitement and drive bookings. Incorporate a deal timer into emails so recipients can keep track of how much time they have left to act on a limited-time offer. After the deal expires, swapped it out with your next deal, or a link to book a comparable trip.

Tip: Avoid customer frustration by always offering an active campaign in email. When a deal expires, give them another option to convert.

6. Offer Real Time Inventory

Offer real time, interactive reservation services right in an email by using web cropping. Web cropping imports real-time website content into your emails — saving on email production time, because it uses already created and approved content that updates automatically when the site is updated. And customers are always seeing your freshest content — every time they open the email.

You can also use real time inventory to incentivize an upgrade. For example, provide additional airline seat options based on the seat they already purchased with a live inventory chart that refreshes each time they go back into the email.

7. Use the Power of Social to Drive Sales

Social media drives sales. Incorporating social into your email campaigns can help you leverage the power of social in two ways: Creating an engaged social community and letting your fans share their positive experiences.

Create a social community

Create an opportunity for consumers to come together to experience your brand. Pull in a live social feed from your Instagram account so recipients can see, and share, the latest, exciting travel accommodations you offer. Social images of vacation destinations are visually engaging and authentic.

62% of consumers say social media interactions drives them to buy more in most or some cases.

Let your fans amplify your message

The travel industry is often driven by reputation. Customer feedback and reviews can make or break your business. Incorporate live social feeds into your emails and let your happy customers do the talking for you. Offer an incentive — like a chance to win a free trip or accumulate travel points — for them to share their love for your business on Instagram or twitter.

Tip: For the best results, avoid using Instagram images smaller than 150x150px.


Email marketing now offers the travel industry exciting and innovative ways to push their campaigns to the next level by creating targeted, personalized experiences for their customers. Incorporating these tactics into your email strategy is a simple win. And don’t forget, even if you’re not doing it —your competition probably is. When planning your next email campaign, remember to:

  • Use consumer data to personalize each email
  • Use weather targeted offers so your emails are relevant to your customer’s needs at the moment of open
  • Build excitement with countdown timers to drive sales
  • Incentivize upsells with real time inventory information
  • Incorporate live social feeds to build a social community that amplifies your brand message

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