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Andrea Serventi
23 January 2018
Reading time: 8 min

Email Marketing for Tourism: A Strategy in 5 Steps

The so called Traveler Journey, in the Tourism industry, can be broken down into 5 micro-moments. Shape the perfect Email campaign for each and every one of them, and convert a one-off traveler into a loyal guest.

In an era of digital natives, the Tourism & Travel industry ought to focus not only on finding new guests and customers, but on building a long-lasting relationship with them. A one-off guest is fine, a returning one is much, much better.

In this post we’ll break down the Traveler Journey and the purchase process into 5 micro-moments, suggesting effective email strategies to be put at work right away.

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1. Dreaming moments

Dreaming moments happen when people explore travel options and fantasize about destinations – without having any definite plans. At this stage, people are looking for inspiration. Here is what you can do to be really effective.

Content Marketing: generate interest through insights

In everyone’s experience, traveling is linked to experiences that involve food and wine tasting, art, wellness/fitness, extreme sports, shopping, and so on. Through Content Marketing you can create valuable content that covers the most diverse fields, with the aim of capturing the user’s interest.

Jetsetter, for instance, with its Magazine offers curated, quality content including news about cultural destinationsattractionscuisinedesign and travel accessories.

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Inspire, educate, inform

Emails aren’t just for selling. They are also for educating and enticing curiosity, while highlighting a special offer. They can inspire new ideas, offer travel tips, suggest activities. Here’s a perfect example from Kayak:

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Why we like this email:

  • Neat and clean design which makes reading easy
  • It combines promotion and interesting content, offering a review of different places to visit and the best times of the year to visit them
  • It takes advantage of email advertising in an original way by placing an ad and hosting other brands’ advertisements

VRBO instead focuses on the adventurous type of travelers – those who enjoy reading all about a location’s history, culture and everything inbetween. The following email is targeted specifically to TV series junkies – the header reads “Wake up in Westeros”, the imaginary continent where popular TV series Game of Thrones takes place.

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Why we like this email:

  • A careful targeting that speaks directly to a specific audience niche
  • A cool visual outcome that plays with the fictional families’ coats of arms

When price is the driver

The approach of a company such as HotelTonight is quite different. In the following email the focus is no longer the location, but the price. It is an email for all those whose budget dictates the destination, and not the other way around.

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Why we like this email:

  • An impressive header that catches attention while being humorous and having a strong visual impact
  • modular structure and a choice to combine suggestive images with complete information on prices and options

Happy birthday emails

Travelers love surprises, and a special email wishing them a happy birthday or celebrating another type of anniversary will not go unnoticed. A happy birthday email is a great push for a new booking. Better still, if a discount or coupon adds to the warmest wishes.


2. Planning moments

Ok, so your user has penciled down ideas, considered options, and narrowed its choice down to a few destinations. Now it’s a matter of planning ahead and finding the right flight on the right date for the right destination.

Flash sales: the conversion incentive

A must for any tourist site or hotel. Special discounts and offers provide the best incentives for urging recipients to convert and book.

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What we like about this email:

  • A very effective copy
  • The email gets straight to the point, clearly showing the discount and terms of validity. An email with the effectiveness of a flyer.

The terms for the discount validity must be clearly indicated. A countdown has great potential in this regard; here is a great example from Vueling.

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What we like about this email:

  • The countdown is central and in tune with the subject: the style mimics airport arrivals/departures boards.
  • The Black Flyday copy deserves a special mention.

Recover abandoned reservations: combine urgency and expectations

As the equivalent email for recovering an abandoned shopping cart in e-commerce, this kind of email lets you reach those customers who started the booking process without finishing it.

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Why we like this email:

  • It generates a sense of urgency without shouting; it offers an essentially clear and honest argument (the fluctuation of prices)
  • The call-to-action is original and immediate; the color stands out and is simultaneously harmonious with the dominant red.

3. Booking moments

This is the moment when the search is over, users are ready to confirm their chosen solution and book tickets and places to stay: conversion.

Upgrade campaigns

These are all those emails that travel and tourism sector brands use to propose offers and services that are connected to the journey the customer just booked. An airline can obtain upgrades by offering more comfortable seating:

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In the case of a resort, additional services can be offered such as excursionsitineraries, access to premium facilities (swimming pool, gym or, for the most exclusive, the golf course), or even the possibility to rent a car.

Offer useful services and information

These are all those activities targeting the customer which freely offer him services and information related to his purchase. Virgin is at the forefront in this case as well.

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What we like about this email:

  • The modular design that divides the different themes into bands
  • Two design details: the ticket’s animated GIF and the weather forecasts.

SMS: invite users to interact on another channel

Travel planning can be stressful for customers. This is why adopting an even more immediate channel can be the best way to manage support activities. Kayak does it pretty well:


The email simply invites the user to begin to interact with the SMS channel, which is a true star for its immediacy and opening rates (over 96% on average).

4. Experiencing moments

These are the days just before and after departure. Opportunities for cultivating relationships with users are hidden in these few days and often underutilized. Here are a couple of ideas.

Welcome the user and generate expectations

With a simple email you can offer a welcome, a small reminder of the trip and renew the expectations about the departure.


Why we like this email:

  • It is not just a simple reminder. The email goes beyond, politely offering an opportunity to get to know the facilities better or contact them
  • The intent is to welcome the customer and give him or her the sense that you are by their side if anything happens.

Request feedback

This is a fundamental phase of any customer experience, as it combines good manners with tangible benefits, because the feedback always contains useful elements for improving your offer and communication.


5. Dreaming (again) moments

Even if the customer’s first trip/stay is over, your relationship with them is not. In precisely this moment, a wide range of contact opportunities presents itself.

New launches

If you have recently enriched your offer with a new destination or a new service, you can use email to present the news and its benefits. It is clearly advantageous if a customer you already have relations with receives this email.


Loyalty program

Frequent travelers and best customers are well aware of the value of a good loyalty program. The advice is to fine-tune it by sending an email in the weeks after a customer’s stay to notify them of the points they accumulated and how to convert them.

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Referral program

One thing is certain: referrals have a greater propensity to buy. If you have a loyalty program, sending an email to customers to let them know how their friends can participate is a great way to increase conversions.

Bonus: transactional emails

The so-called transactional emails – booking confirmation, notification of changes to the trip, etc. – are, contrary to what you may think, essential emails from the customer experience perspective.

It is imperative that they have a layout and style that’s in line with the brand’s identity, colors, font, tone of voice, and proportions. Airbnb is very attentive to this aspect. The following is a screenshot of their website:

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What we like about this email:

  • The minimal layout which facilitates reading
  • It best reflects Airbnb’s business model, which aims to be nothing more than a bridge that connects people. In short, it minimizes its own presence.

By their nature, transactional emails comprise the category that records the highest click rates. Precisely for this reason, they can be used as trampolines to re-launch a business relationship, proposing new services or offers.

The email below is from Airbnb and notifies a customer of their booking. To save space we have cut out the purely transactional part and left the promotional part.

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Why we like this email:

  • Its graphic layout continuity with all the other Airbnb communications
  • It is an excellent example of the degree of cross-selling strategy (Hospitality → Food) to apply within a transactional email.

Tips ⇾ Tools: from theory to practice

✅ Collect new contacts

Database building activities are the prerequisite for any Email Marketing operation, as well as being subject to specific legal provisions. For this reason, instead of buying packages with millions of email addresses, it is better to opt for certain tools and techniques. You’ll find the best ones you’ll find the best one in this post.

✅ Integrate all systems

With MailUp’s APIs you can connect the sending platform with external databases, booking engines, CRM, CMS, e-commerce, and any other external application, synchronizing all customer information:

  • Personal data
  • Type (single, family, etc.)
  • Destination preferences
  • Origin
  • Reason for stay (business, pleasure)
  • Travel frequency
  • Spending average
  • Loyalty points.

✅ Customize campaigns

According to a study by Aberdeen Group, emails have click-through rates which grow by 14% and conversions which grow by 10% when they are personalized. Personalization essentially passes through two key activities: profiling and segmentation.

✅ Automate sending

Marketing Automation makes it possible to trigger the automatic delivery of punctual, immediate, and personalized emails and SMS messages. Unlike a one-shot promotional campaign, a triggered message is created and set up only once, and then sent to database contacts whenever certain conditions are met. Here is a collection of posts dedicated to the topic.

✅ Track and measure

Knowing how to measure and constantly monitor performance is the only way to understand its value and improve subsequent operations. What are the main KPIs (key performance indicators) of Email Marketing? You can find them here.

These are all features you can use with the MailUp platform. If you haven’t tried it yet, you can request a free 30-day trial.

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Andrea Serventi

I was born in 1986 in Milan, where I graduated in Modern Literature and started writing for online newspapers, magazines and TV news programs. Having now converted to marketing and the digital world, I am a Content Editor at MailUp: I read, listen, collect ideas, and write about what email marketing is and how to use it strategically.

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