It’s sometimes tough for travel email marketers. Sifting through countless images of lush exotic landscapes. Writing magical words that liberate the senses, pushing you to imagine exotic sights, sounds, and flavours.

All the while sitting in a barren office, with yesterday’s leftovers as lunch and the calming humdrum of the (not so exotic) office printer.

Sound familiar? I hear ya’ travel email marketers. And while I can’t teleport you to the far-off destinations on your own bucket list, I can help your email campaigns reach two magical destinations — the hearts and minds of your audience.

#1 Don’t just handcraft their holiday, handcraft your email too!

Let’s play pretend for a second. You’re trying to convince your friend to go on a one time trip with you. They might go for it, they might not — you need to sell it to them. Being their friend, chances are you’ll already know what makes them tick; you know which buttons to press. Their favourite activities, dream destinations, favourite foods and most important — their budget.
Now, let’s use that in email marketing terms — do you have any insights on your recipients? I’m not talking the big-data, kinda creepy level of information that Facebook is selling, I’m talking about basic stuff. Age group, location, vacation interests, average vacation budget, etc. If you can collect this and reference it within your campaign research — you’re on your way to creating a targeted and very tempting email proposition to your recipient.

#2 Be positive with your words, and positive results will follow.

Hands up if you’ve ever dreaded an upcoming holiday? Trips to the in-laws excluded. I’m always excited about my holidays. I’ll research, read reviews and talk to anyone who will (pretend to) listen about the destination. Here’s the question, when you’re creating your email content — do you share the same excitement? This isn’t just any holiday, this is their holiday. It’s your goal to ensure your email campaign not only inspires your recipients, it encourages them to be at the destination — they can almost smell the cuisine and splash around in the green gulf waters. It’s all in their mind at this stage, but the rest usually follows.

#3 Don’t stop at ‘hello’, keep the conversation flowing…

When it comes to promotional email marketing campaigns, love, at first sight, is very rare. As wondrous as your email campaign is, the recipient won’t make a purchase after one glance. Even the ideal potential traveller who takes a lot of vacations and has booked online before will need more than a single email to inspire them to make your destination their next. There are different stages of interest that your recipients will go through, and as marketers, we should utilise analytics and reporting to understand which stage a recipient is at. From the introduction to the final push, monitor recipient activity in your email CRM to make informed decisions about their level of interest. Did they open the email but not click on any of the links? Did they click on a certain destination multiple times? Did they not open the email? This will help you created tailored messages to specific interest audiences and try to re-engage your ‘unopened’ contacts.

#4 You may think this relationship is over, but really…it just started.

So, the recipient loved your initial email campaign. So much so, they visited your website and called your sales representative to book the package. Question: has your role as an email marketer ended? Absolutely not. It’s only just begun.

Customers need regular engagement in order to stay loyal to your brand. Take a look at the time period between “holiday booked” and “returned from holiday,” this is a time frame in which you can really sell your expertise as a travel business. Your audience already feels good about your destination. Keep them jazzed with timed messaging. Send them inspiring little stories, tips on restaurants or activities, and ‘can’t miss’ experiences, to build their excitement.

When they return from holiday, send a ‘Welcome Home’ email, request they leave a review, ask them if there is anything you can help with. Most importantly, ask when do they plan to travel again? At this point, if you have created the right atmosphere, they’ll be feeling like a VIP customer and that’s a good feeling to come back to next year right?

#5 The really great thing about quotes is…people listen.

Often I find myself asking friends or family if they have been to a destination. What was it like? What were their first impressions? The Internet is just a larger version of this conversation, only had with dozens of strangers. Websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are full of reviews of where to go and where NOT to go. As a travel marketer, always try to showcase the positive opinions of other travellers to your recipient. It builds assurance and trust in your brand and the destination.
Speaking of which, destination marketers can also take note. If you are promoting your city, introduce your recipients to its people — whether residents, holiday makers or those just passing through. Someone who is thinking of relocating, setting up a business or just taking a vacation — they all want to hear from others in their position that has already done it.

#6 Sometimes the picture does most of the talking…

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But what if those words aren’t worth much themselves? I’ve noticed travel newsletters and promotional campaigns may use great imagery, but it only functions as a pretty picture. It may inspire, but it doesn’t compel.

Here’s the difference between a normal image and a great image. A normal image will just be related to the article, or campaign somehow. It may be an image of a beach or an activity taking place… it’s pretty, but the reader will forget about it. A great image, well, that’ll make a reader feel like they are part of the scene, as though they could step into it. Not only will it be relevant to the content of the email, it’ll contain people doing the things a potential vacationer wants to do — whether it is hiking up a mountain or relaxing by the pool.

Try using dynamic images to reflect the audience of the email. Let the image match the interests or even the gender or age group of your recipient. When I look at a well-formed travel newsletter or email creative, I notice the image — step into the scene — and then I read the content. If it all looks good, I know where I’m heading on my next holiday — I just need to plan it.

Creating email marketing campaigns for the traveller is sometimes tricky, you’re marketing something tangible — the destination, alongside something intangible — the experience. There is a fine balance between engaging with the recipient and selling to them. If you can practice what works for your business, and continually test results to implement changes — you’re well on your way to successful travel and destination email marketing.

This article was originally written for ww.atlargeinc.com and can be found here.

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