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Paola Bergamini
27 May 2021
Reading time: 6 min.

Tourism and a post-COVID reboot: Email Marketing strategies to prep for summer

The recent lift on restrictions and vaccination acceleration are awakening hopes of starting tourism anew. Let’s look at the 2021 tourism trends, plus the Email Marketing strategies to not be caught off guard this summer.

An international recovery is forecasted for 2024. A boost in volumes compared to the pre-pandemic scenario will only begin to take shape in 2023. These two simple data are enough to understand the extent of an unprecedented crisis for one of the sectors most affected by the health emergency.

After practically a yearlong standstill, the recent ease on restrictions and the progress of the vaccination campaign favor the much anticipated recovery of the travel sector. This opens a door to dealing with a new normal and a totally different way of thinking about vacations and traveling. 

Now let’s check out the main trends that will influence tourism in 2021, plus the Email Marketing strategies to take on for the reboot.

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The impacts of COVID on tourism: an overview on the state of the sector in 2020

Before delving into what’s in store over the next few months, let’s try to understand the pandemic’s impact on global tourism thus far. Some data:

But the pandemic hasn’t stifled consumers’ itch to travel. According to an Airbnb survey, 1 out 2 people have missed traveling more than anything (47%). In fact, flight bookings had a 300% increase in countries like the UK where vaccination has sped up the return to normality.

The pandemic’s influence on tourism communication strategies

In 2020, all companies in the sector needed to review their communication strategies to adapt to the stalemate throughout much of the year. Flight and train offers, plus discounts on overnight stays, have been replaced by security measure updates. These include how to cancel already scheduled trips. A carefree tone of voice has given way to messages of empathy and solidarity.

MailUp’s 2021 Statistical Observatory compared tourism and hotel plus transport and travel sector data to global ones. Despite the crisis, their performance hasn’t been entirely disappointing. This confirms how decisive email has been in maintaining a constant dialogue with the public:

  • promotional mailings showed a positive trend, both in terms of openings, clicks, and interactions
  • newsletters, on the other hand, achieved good performance only when it came to the open rate precisely because of the standstill of activities that hindered message actions and the recipient’ drive to go further

On the SMS front, however, the sector’s SMS Marketing strategies suffered a sharp setback due to to the drastic drop in booking confirmation and travel reminder messages. A sharp decline in mailing volumes emerges when analyzing a MailUp customer sample, with a difference of -46% compared to 2019.

H3 Security, flexibility, and last-minute bookings

Flexible and last-minute bookings, free cancellation solutions, and secure travel options are the main trends for 2021 vacations.

Compliance with hygiene regulations and ensuring the implementation of effective safety measures are the new priorities that guide consumer travel choices. Today’s instability has led people to opt for safer vacations and to avoid unforeseen events. This makes way for last-minute bookings, free cancellation packages, and full refunds.

Local tourism and domestic travel

The restrictions that are still in place for traveling abroad and international flights will affect the choices of many travelers. As an alternative, they see local tourism as a simpler and less risky solution. The search for getaways close to home, e.g. “resort near me”, have gone up by 80% according to Google Trends. 

For this reason, a faster reboot of 1–2 years is expected for local tourism:

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Travel becomes a digital experience

The push for digitalization hasn’t spared tourism either. A noteworthy number is the increase in searches for online hospital booking apps. This has peaked at a 100% spike worldwide.

From booking and contactless check-in methods via digital channels to virtual tours for exploring destinations, the tourist journey has become more and more digitalized. This is true not only when it comes to tools for searches, decisions, and purchases but also when integrating virtual elements into the physical experience of travel. The result is this: a travel experience where the physical and the digital are intertwined and where the online dimension accompanies the user before (in the booking phase), during (contactless digital payments and check-in), and after the journey itself (e-commerce for travel-related products).

Working vacation

For more than a year, remote work has become the new normal for many people. In a context where the vision of hybrid working methods are becoming more and more realistic, many choose to take advantage of this condition to balance work with leisure. Already last year, 23.6% of remote workers declared that they had moved their work to a tourist spot for an average of 42 days. This raked in a total of €1.25 billion for what’s known as a working vacation.

Some companies are grasping this new need, taking advantage of the holiday working trend to accelerate their own reboot: Airbnb has launched a competition with Trentino Marketing to do remote work from a cabin; some Italian cities are offering incentives for those who travel to work remotely; and Think with Google has shown Club del Sole’s excellent achievements through its “smart working” villages.

Email Marketing best practices to start the summer anew

Optimize to stand out in the inbox

Competition among tourism companies will become even more fierce and difficult after this long period of stagnation. Recently, our inboxes have started to fill up with promotions and discounts in light of reopening. To stand out and capture travelers’ interest, start by optimizing the subject. How?

Make it specific and captivating. Ensure that your offer’s advantage is clear right away. Attract the user through keywords and emojis that create a sense of urgency, and stimulate the desire to resume traveling. 

Work on the design

Besides the subject, it’s also important to take care of your email design. Be sure that the user is encouraged to make a conversion once the message is opened. To do so, we suggest:

  • optimize the email structure by having your offer’s strengths (e.g. a promotion’s flexibility or economic advantage) above-the-fold and give a precise hierarchy to the content for clarity and readability;
  • push the user to convert with a well-positioned and bulletproof CTA, and
  • choose a responsive design so that your emails are legible and viewable on a mobile.
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Personalize the offer

Even for the travel sector, personalization proves to be an extra ace up the sleeve to boost a campaign’s effectivenessaccording to Selligent83% of millennials are willing to share their data in exchange for a personalized travel experience, while 85% of travelers consider a standard offer much less attractive than a tailor-made itinerary.

Use tools like segmentation filters to create contact clusters in your database and send hyper-personalized offers like nearby destination tips, exclusive workation solutions, or customized travel proposals based on previous user navigation.

Jump start your contacts with reactivation campaigns

After a year of tourism standstill, there’s a high risk of having uninterested, dormant contacts in your database. A key step for ensuring an effective reboot is to identify inactive contacts and develop a re-engagement strategy that catches this type of recipient with content that goes beyond the usual:

  • surveys to collect information and preferences that can then be harnessed through targeted campaigns;
  • personalized coupons to incentivize bookings;
  • updates on your services (new flexible formulas, digital payments, virtual check-ins, implemented security rules, etc.), and
  • online contests to revive users through prizes and bonuses.

Now it’s up to you!

These were some tips to boost your email campaigns and set you on the right track for this summer’s reopening. Get help from our team of experts by asking for personalized, no-obligation advice to enhance your reboot strategies.

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Paola Bergamini

I was born in 1993 in Como and I escaped from this little town to study in Milan, where I graduated in 2017 in philosophy. I've always been interested in marketing and communication and I love writing and reading. As Content Editor at MailUp, I try to keep up to date with Email and Digital Marketing news, in order to share trends, theories and tools about this constantly evolving sector.

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