Five inspirational lessons in email marketing from the travel industry Published July 26, 2016 If you’ve not done so already it’s likely you’ll be jetting off on your holidays soon. And at this time of year your inbox contains some excellent examples of ways to engage your audience, brought to you by the travel industry. From booking references and customer reviews to smart travel tips – there are some great ways that email marketing can be used to tease, prepare and re-engage your audience. And the great news is, you don’t have to be working within the travel sector to use these principles – you can apply them regardless of which industry you work in. Take a look at just a few of the examples below and how they can be used to build relationships and keep your audience opening, clicking and engaging with your brand. Don’t be afraid to upsell Whether it’s travel insurance, an extra night’s stay or currency exchange services, you’re probably used to being upsold to after you’ve made a holiday booking. Travel agencies are great at making suggestions for additional purchases – and why not? You’ve told them where you’re going, when you leave and who you are – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to suggest what you might need, and to make it genuinely useful. Never be afraid to suggest additional purchases to your customers. If they’ve made one purchase you’ve already got their data at your finger tips and you can make an educated guess at what they might want next. If you’re offering them relevant information, you might just be able to make their lives easier. Build anticipation with your customers Booking something in advance gives a business time to build up a rapport before their customer consumes or receives it. The agency you’ve booked with knows exactly when you’re going to travel, which gives them a finite amount of time for them to contact you. They know you’re getting ready for your journey and you’re most likely to open their emails in the build up to your travel date. Even if you’re not in the travel business, you’ve got a period of time between someone purchasing your product and consumption – so use this window of opportunity to create a rapport, anticipation and excitement. Airbnb do a great job of connecting with their customer before their trip with a series of timely automated emails gearing the client up for their stay. Tell them what other customers think The travel industry was one of the earliest adopters of user-generated content. We’re all familiar with the likes of TripAdvisor – it’s often the first port of call for many travelers before making a booking. But reviews are no longer just used in the travel sector – today the customer is used to reviewing every product they consume. If you’re still not using customer reviews in your email marketing then now is the time to do it. They show you’re trustworthy, experienced and care what your customers think. They’re great for sales too with Revoo suggesting that reviews produce an average 18% uplift in sales (Econsultancy, 2015). A customer review is more influential than any other marketing – in fact 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase, viewing them as for more trustworthy than any other form of marketing (Econsultancy, 2015). Make your customers’ lives easy The travel and leisure industry have taken the hard work out of traveling. They’re experts in presenting information in simple readable formats for people to quickly reference and use. Checking into your flight, downloading your boarding pass or looking up your travel itinerary can all be done in lightning quick time using an app, your mobile or email. Customer experience within travel is one of the most genuinely integrated multi-channel experiences of all industries. They know their customers are often on the go while looking up information which has led to the creation of some of the slickest apps, planners and automated email activity. Don’t make your customer work hard to find information they might need on the go. Think of how your communications can make your customers’ lives easier and make sure your email, app, websites and offline operations need to work together seamlessly to create a great customer experience. Use emotional cues to prompt behaviour January is peak for travel agents with many of them ramping up their activity post-Christmas to encourage bookings for the summer. Let’s face it, the image of a tropical island warm the hearts of most people when you’ve got the January blues. They use timely marketing emails with aspirational imagery to trigger bookings based on our urge to escape the harsh winter weather. The travel industry are masters of using these emotional cues to encourage a booking. Think of how you can appeal to your customer’s aspirations, desires and needs to trigger interaction – and don’t be afraid to use them in your marketing. These are just a few examples of how many in the travel industry are using email to increase their revenue and build relationships with their customers. Take a look at your own industry and think laterally – they may be ways in which you can use some of these tactics to build relationships with your customers.