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Eight Reasons Why Email Marketing Works For Travel & Hospitality
Wendy Lowe
Mention email marketing to folks in the travel and hospitality industry and you may find that many are still unaware of what it is and how it works. Others, however, are rapidly discovering that email marketing is just about one of the most effective means of generating sales.

Want proof? When Shop.org surveyed retailers for their State of Retailing Online 2009 report, they found that email was the most-mentioned successful tactic overall. The Ad Effectiveness Survey commissioned by Forbes Media in Febru ary/March 2009 placed email marketing second only to SEO for generating conversions. And, research conducted in 2009 by the Direct Marketing Association demonstrated that email out-performs all other forms of direct marketing.  The bigger question, of course, is why? Out of all the hundreds or even thousands of messages consumers are exposed to each day, why is email marketing so effective?

There are several reasons, and travel agents, hosts and others who embrace these principles will quickly find themselves joining in the chorus of praise.  Email marketing has a broad reach. It’s tough to find anyone who doesn’t have at least one email address these days, which means you can reach out to your entire customer and/or prospect base. Just be sure to get their permission first by asking if you can add them to your mailing list.

Email marketing is proactive. Many travel agents and destinations start promoting their businesses by taking out ads in a phone directory, a tourism guide, a local community newspaper, a billboard, etc. The problem is your customers and prospects have to happen across them in order to see them. Email marketing goes directly to a place they’re already looking – their email in-box – and gives them the opportunity to take action on the offer directly.

Email marketing is targeted. Most forms of advertising are based on the concept that if you hit thousands of people with your message, even though it means nothing to most of them, a few are likely to respond. Email marketing, though, is based on the idea of sending the right message directly to the right people based on their preferences, previous purchases, etc. You can build one master list, then segment it by gender, age, income, preferred activities, previously known destinations, time of year, geographic location or other criteria. It eliminates a lot of the guesswork that makes other forms of marketing so inefficient.

Email marketing provides data. If you’re using an email marketing application or service designed for small business, you can run reports that show which emails or messages worked, as well as which didn’t, so you can improve your next campaign. You can even run split tests, sending one offer or message to half your list and a different one to the other half, so you can get a better feel for exactly what makes customers and prospects buy from you.

Email marketing allows you to engage. It’s nice to get the one-off business from travelers trying something new. But your real goal is to build a relationship with your customers/guests so they think of you whenever it’s time for them to travel. Email marketing allows you to do that by bringing them news, favorable reviews, notices of special activities (music festivals), timely tips (such as an impending rate hike by the airlines), and more on a regular basis. It’s a great way to engage them – and keep them engaged.

Email marketing has a low cost of entry. Most forms of advertising or marketing require a big up-front investment before you see any results. That can get expensive for a travel-related business trying to watch its bottom line. Email marketing has very little up-front cost, allowing you to market effectively without having to stop your core business work for long periods to get it done. Email marketing is less intrusive. Unlike television or radio commercials, or especially telemarketing calls, email marketing doesn’t interrupt a prior activity to deliver a message. Opening email is the activity your customers and prospects are engaged in when they see your message. If you’ve done a good job of building that relationship, they’ll actually look forward to seeing what you have to say (instead of using a remote to zap past your message).

Email marketing works. According to the DMA’s research, email marketing generated a return on investment of $43.62 for every dollar spent on it in 2009. You’re unlikely to find that kind of ROI out of any other form of marketing or advertising. That, of course, is the best reason of all to launch an email marketing campaign.
 
Done correctly, email marketing allows you to become (and remain) visible to your customers and prospects with highly-targeted messages at a minimal cost. All while delivering outstanding, measurable results. And that’s a road well worth traveling.  About the Author: Wendy Lowe is director of product marketing for Campaigner (www.campaigner.com), the email marketing solution that enables organizations to have highly personalized one-to-one email dialogues with their customers, measure how they respond, and analyze those responses to interact in a more intelligent, automated way - resulting in more profitable relationships. Campaigner is provided by Protus (www.protus.com), provider of the highest quality Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) communication tools for small-to-medium businesses (SMB) and enterprise organizations, including my1voice, the cost-effective, feature-rich virtual phone service, and award-winning MyFax, the fastest growing Internet fax service.

Wendy Lowe is Regional DevelopmentDirector for Campaigner (www.Campaigner.com ), an e-mail marketingsolution that enables organizations to have personalized one-to-one e-maildialogues with their customers, measure how they respond, and analyze thoseresponses. Campaigner is provided by Protus, provider of my1voice,the cost-effective, feature-rich virtual phone service, and award-winning MyFax, thefastest growing Internet fax service. Wendy can be reached at wlowe@protus.com.
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