How hoteliers can use email to capture the return of travel

Travel may not yet be quite back to pre-pandemic levels, but it is getting there, especially for leisure travel.

Key indicators for the hospitality industry are expected to return to 2019 levels later this year or in 2023, according to the latest data from Lodging Analytics Research & Consulting.

The company expects one important metric – revenue per available room, or RevPAR, to increase by more than 18% in 2022.

For hotel marketers, this is obviously good news. It’s also an impetus to ensure your brand is doing everything it can to capture its share of the return-to-travel market. Email campaigns will undoubtedly play a vital role in your strategy.

But even as we approach pre-pandemic travel levels, you’re not communicating with time travelers as of 2019. Travel has changed, at least in the short term if not permanently, and so should your messaging.

Here are three ideas for how to reconnect with people to ensure your hotels are part of their revitalized plans in the new era of travel.

1. Respond to nostalgia for travel

Experienced online marketers are familiar with retention and reactivation campaigns, and past work can inform today’s campaigns.

But these aren’t your typical lapsed customers who have been lured by a competitor. Many people simply haven’t traveled in the past couple of years, or have done so without staying in traditional hotels.

Your emails should not only remind them that you’re still around, but why they loved staying with you — and why they loved traveling in general — in the first place. Your goal is to make them remember what they missed.

Now is not the time for a generic “Our brand is awesome” message, per se. Instead, tap into the emotional reasons people loved staying with you in the first place: big beds with pillows and luxury linens, room service, majestic views, a shower big enough to live in. – you get the idea.

The specifics are up to you based on your brands and data, but the idea here is to be human: fun, romantic, experiential. Something as simple as a turndown service or an in-room spa treatment might be just the thing to pique someone’s pent-up interest.

2. Boost the stay experience

Here’s one of the advantages of hotel brands over other travel providers: your loyal customers don’t necessarily have to travel far to reconnect with you. Many people may be ready to spend a weekend in a nice hotel, but not yet so enthusiastic about air travel or cruises, for example.

Staycations are a wonderful middle ground for people who are ready to resume their leisure travels, but don’t want to stray too far from home to do so.

Create offers and campaigns for people staying in (or near) their home city or state. Words like “recharge” and “refresh” can be essential: whether someone romantic is looking for a couple’s weekend without the kids, or a change of scenery from their home office, or a night out (and a late ) with old friends, the staycation experience is a huge opportunity for hotel marketers.

Emphasize features of your properties that locals might find appealing, whether you feature large spaces for remote workers, on-site amenities like a spa or pool, or ties to local events.

Your emails can land with even more impact when paired with attractive offers, such as bonus loyalty points for local stays or credit for a future stay in another city.

3. Show customers you haven’t forgotten about them as individuals

Finally, hotel marketers need to remember: you still have a wealth of valuable data to help you personalize things for loyal guests. Email is a great way to remind them that you remember them and their preferences.

Whether it’s a high floor, a favorite amenity, a special request, or just a particular cocktail at the hotel bar, you can remind them that it’s all there and you get always exact details.

It’s a powerful way to reconnect with people after such a disruption in travel habits: I haven’t been there for two or three years and they still remember me.

Remember that your competitors have the same fundamental objective here: to capture the new wave of travel. Personalization will absolutely be one of the differentiators. If your competitors are doing it, so should you. And if they don’t, making things personal for people will mean you stand out from other options.

The best part about each of these ideas is their accessibility. The technology is great, but you don’t necessarily need a state-of-the-art martech stack to do it right now. You need the data and you need the content, including images. You must also be able to access and benefit from this data and its relevant content. And that’s really all.

People are more than ready to return, and hotels are uniquely positioned to capture that interest. Make sure you can say the same about your emails.

About the Author…

Jeff Haws is a senior executive at MessageGears.