Ten Things Your Travel Email Marketing Could Be Doing (and Probably Isn’t)

The vast universe of travel marketing often strikes me as simply inexplicable.

Occasionally, you’ll hear a few people complain about “the developers,” especially that they are “just greedy”. This is supposed to explain the sheer lack of professional marketing. Greedy developers are supposed to want money. I don’t get how they let so many marketing teams sabotage them.

In the past couple of decades, a lot of really big hotel chains have simply dropped off the agencies’ lists. Some of them are still there (some doing nice work too) but by and large, most hotels and vacation clubs and travel related business just don’t do marketing. They do occasional promotions and they apparently buy email lists (imagine, in 2014!). It’s likely because they have almost no way of building a list for themselves. I can honestly say that I have been on the mailing lists of every hotel and resort I can find. (I almost never leave without signing up.) And I still get only promotional emails.

No blog posts. No helpful advice. Never a tip about when to come. Never advice about low-season vs. high season or what to do and when. Never a story.

It’s always – always – an invitation to come within the next two months, at a special, just slightly discounted price. Then there’s a picture of some models, presumably meant to be appealing. This is what they should be doing (especially if they’re in it for the money!).

10 Things Your Travel Email Marketing Should Be Doing…


  1. Welcoming and Reassuring – How about an introductory email to tell me all about the hotel, the location, your history there and the history of the building, rooms or kitchen?
  2. How about Building Your Reputation? – not as CHEAP (like you appear in your promotions) but as RELIABLE. Try making all your emails valuable, interesting and consistent?
  3. Information! If you really think people are not interested, you should get into another line of business – or at least hire somebody who is interested. What you get back in terms of the above (reputation) is invaluable.
  4. Service! Why are people visiting you? Find out. Then create content to satisfy those needs. The scariest thing is that the people handling your email marketing are exactly the people who don’t read useful emails. They’re the people that hate email and they don’t think much of your customers either.
  5. Do Some Math. Yearly cost breakdowns take a little time. Salespeople do the math because it works. Whatever people need to calculate, they could be calculating wrong. Make it bold and pretty and spell out the savings. People remember it.
  6. Explain your most unpopular policies. No kids on the sofa cushions? People can understand why not. No room-service after midnight? Tell them what hours your people are working already. It’s not a big deal, and I’d be willing to bet your room service people are already a lot better at marketing you than you think.
  7. Maintain a relationship long after the sale. You already know your sales people are damned nice people. All of them maintain relationships, but your marketing people are likely wearing that down doing listless promotions.
  8. Get reviews and ask questions. If you’re too big to answer your emails then your probably just not well managed. Really, reviews are important for a bunch of other reasons too, like for SEO, for credibility and word-of-mouth advertising (or at least the appearance of it).
  9. Solicit and encourage upgrades.  Show people what they’re getting, and then compare it with what they’re not getting.
  10. Get people onto ever more specific lists.  Whether by location, demographics or interests, you can always create more and better emails based on what you know about your lists.

Like I said in a previous post, I’ve been to resorts where absolutely everyone on the ground wished me well. They said hello, asked me if I need anything – and they delivered.

Basically, housekeeping marketed the bloody hell out of that resort the entire time I was there!

And did a good job too.

The resort website, though, is just a brochure.

The email marketing is:

  1. Boobs
  2. Palm Trees
  3. Chaise Lounge and Bali Bed pictures.
  4. Discounts that I can not care less about. 65% off WHAT?
  5. Oh, and there’s lots of small print. That could just as well be explained in the main body-copy (#6 above). You’d end up looking less like a grizzly corporation and more like “people”.

Sorry. For now, I’m not biting.


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