For travel businesses all over the world, getting a traveler’s email address can be one of the holy grails of marketing.

With an email address, you have one of the most powerful ways to share your message with your audience.

You’re not reliant on social media’s algorithms deciding who sees your posts and who doesn’t. You’re not reliant on paid ads to release random people. You’re not reliant on anything else except your team’s capability to send good emails.

Well, almost nothing else.

While email marketing stands as a potent tool for cultivating leads and amplifying sales, especially within travel, tourism, and hospitality, it’s not just as simple as getting a traveler’s email and putting it on your list.

You’ve got to keep your email list healthy and engaged.

For many travel businesses, emails are seen in a “the more, the merrier” light, which leads to lists that are cluttered with names you don’t recognize, people who aren’t relevant, and a mix of prospects, travel professionals, and more. 

For travel businesses looking to optimize their email list, regular upkeep is important. This practice ensures that your email list remains pertinent and comprises recipients who are genuinely predisposed to take action.

So, how can you keep your travel marketing list in tip-top shape? We’ve got six strategies for you.

Segment Your List for Better Engagement

One of the best ways to improve your email list is through segmentation. 

Not all subscribers on your list share identical interests or preferences. For instance, if you’re putting together an email campaign to promote a new travel package, say a honeymoon special, targeting individuals who have previously shown interest in similar packages can be highly effective.

Similarly, if you’ve got past clients who’ve already traveled with you and you know they’re married, the idea of a honeymoon might not resonate with them (try a vow renewal package instead!).

Through the process of segmentation, you can effectively customize your marketing endeavors for distinct groups. 

Demographic factors, interests, past travel experiences, or engagement history can serve as viable criteria for categorizing your email list. 

This tailored approach enhances open rates and click-through rates, driving a more effective campaign.

Email Marketing Example: Multiday Tour Operator

Suppose a multiday tour operator is launching a new adventure package focused on hiking and nature exploration. 

By segmenting their email list based on previous participation in outdoor activities, they can precisely target subscribers who have shown interest in similar experiences. 

This approach ensures that their email campaign reaches the right audience, increasing the likelihood of engagement and bookings for the new adventure package.

Remove Inactive Subscribers

Bigger is not always better, and that applies to your email list. Just because you grew your list by 200 or 2,000 in a year doesn’t mean that you’re going to have 200 or 2,000 travelers.

Often having more people on your list means there’s more of a chance that you’re sending to addresses people no longer use anymore, that you’re ending up in spam, or that your messages are just being deleted.

This matters because it affects your sender score. The higher this score is, the more reputable you and your business are deemed, and the more likely your emails will be delivered.

We want to keep that score high and to do so, we need to remove the people who aren’t engaging with (opening, reading, and clicking) our emails. 

Why do people stop engaging? Plenty of reasons:

  • They found you while doing research for a trip, then booked with someone else… but stayed on your list
  • Your emails weren’t good enough, so they just delete them before opening
  • You didn’t write an email for a year, so they forgot why they signed up in the first place
  • Your emails are going to spam
  • Or maybe they just don’t check that email anymore

Whatever the reason, the idea is this: identify subscribers who haven’t interacted with your emails for an extended period. 

Then, try a re-engagement campaign to see if they’re still peripherally paying attention. This can be an offer, a short check-in email, a fun video, or something else. For your own information, it can be useful to ask for a piece of information, like what you could be doing to improve your emails, for example.

So, at what point do we consider an individual disengaged/inactive? It can depend on your travel business and how far in advance travelers plan.

  • No engagement for 6 months – If you are offering day trips, it’s likely that subscribers who once wanted to hear from you have either gone on their trip or are no longer going on their trip. 
  • No engagement for 12 months – For multiday tour operators who have guests that plan more than a year in advance, it can be helpful to wait for up to 12 months before sending a re-engagement campaign. If they haven’t opened any of your emails, though (assuming you send them on a monthly basis), a year is about time to consider them lost.

Most email marketing platforms will have some way of filtering your users based on the last campaign they opened. Should these subscribers fail to re-engage, it’s advisable to remove them from your list.

Email Marketing Example: Hotel

Imagine a hotel seeking to boost bookings for its seasonal vacation packages. 

By identifying and removing inactive subscribers who haven’t engaged with their emails for an extended period, the hotel can enhance its email deliverability and open rates. 

This ensures that its captivating vacation offers reach an audience genuinely interested in planning getaways, leading to increased reservations and occupancy rates.

Improve List Integrity with Double Opt-In

Implementing a double opt-in procedure for new subscribers represents a potent strategy for refining your email list in the travel and tourism sector. 

This approach ensures that only genuinely interested individuals are added to your roster.

By incorporating this mechanism, you substantially curtail the presence of false or invalid email addresses. As a result, your email list gains relevance, augmenting the triumph of your travel and tourism email campaigns.

Email Marketing Example: Destination

Consider a destination marketing organization aiming to attract travelers to its cultural festivals. 

Implementing a double opt-in process ensures that only individuals who genuinely wish to explore cultural events and local experiences subscribe to their email list. 

This results in a more engaged subscriber base eager to receive updates on festivals, ultimately driving footfall and tourism revenue for the destination.

Regularly Clean Your List

Engaging in consistent list maintenance, while occasionally a hassle (though one you can automate!), remains indispensable to preserving the relevance and vibrancy of your email roster. 

This practice aids in eliminating hard bounces, spam traps, and dormant email addresses. 

Employing email verification tools can facilitate the purification process, enabling the scrutiny of email address validity and prompt removal of problematic entries.

As mentioned in point number two about removing inactive subscribers, you may want to clean your list in the same periods of time. If you’re a multiday tour operator, consider sending your re-engagement campaign once a year.

You can, of course, automate this process to happen after your subscribers have been inactive for a year. Depending on the size of your business, this step may not be totally necessary.

Email Marketing Example: Multiday Tour Operator

A multiday tour operator organizing guided historical tours must ensure that its email list remains accurate and up-to-date. 

Regularly cleansing the list through email verification tools helps remove incorrect or outdated email addresses. 

This safeguards that their captivating history-themed tour promotions successfully reach potential participants, leading to higher tour bookings.

Establish Expectations

Keeping your travel email marketing list healthy starts with a happy audience. 

A happy audience knows what they’ve signed up for and why they’re getting the email. That starts with the welcome email. 

Upon subscribers’ initial registration, include a clear description of the email type and frequency they can anticipate receiving. This helps keep subscribers from feeling inundated, diminishing the likelihood of flagging your emails as spam.

Plus, if they don’t agree with how you’ll be emailing them, they can unsubscribe.

That said, don’t use this as an opportunity to say “Hey, we’re going to email you every single day!” just because you want to make a sale. Make sure that the rhythm you’ve chosen is supported by the audience you have.

You can tell if your rhythm is working through trial and error. Generally, though, if your open rates are consistent and your unsubscribe rates don’t change too dramatically, it means you’re on the right path.

Email Marketing Example: Hotel

A luxury hotel with a renowned spa and gourmet dining options endeavors to maintain customer loyalty and engagement. 

By setting clear expectations regarding the frequency of emails and the benefits of subscribing (exclusive spa offers, culinary events), the hotel ensures that its subscribers eagerly anticipate and engage with their well-curated content. 

This fosters stronger relationships and encourages repeat bookings.

Make Unsubscribing Easy

Recognize that not all recipients intend to remain subscribed indefinitely. After all, some travelers may choose to travel with someone else, to somewhere else, or just not like your emails. 

There’s no pleasing everyone, after all! What is important is that you respect their choice, and make unsubscribing easy.

Keeping a clear unsubscribe button is key. Not only does it show your audience that you respect them, but it also improves your reputation with email service providers, reducing the risk of email classification as spam.

Email Marketing Example: Destination

A scenic tourist destination, known for its picturesque landscapes and outdoor adventures, aims to keep its email subscribers engaged. 

Recognizing that not all recipients will wish to receive emails indefinitely, the destination makes the unsubscribe process effortless. 

This respectful approach maintains a positive reputation with email service providers, ensuring that its emails showcasing breathtaking travel experiences continue to reach interested travelers.

Next Steps

Within the travel and tourism sector, the power of email marketing is undeniable. That power doesn’t come from just having the most subscribers, though. It comes from having a list of people who want to hear from you. 

One strategy to ensure their engagement is keeping your email list as healthy as possible. I hope the aforementioned tips are valuable to you.

For help developing your email marketing strategy, contact our partners at Passport Creative, a digital marketing agency focused on travel & tourism.

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