How Travel Brands Can Boost Email Engagement

The fallout continues for United Airlines, with shares down 1.1% by the end of trading on Tuesday after the airline forcibly removed a passenger on Sunday due to overbooking.

The travel industry doesn’t just suffer from a lackluster customer experience, but also has some of the least effective email marketing according to IBM research.

Litmus surveyed more than 600 U.S. consumers that had booked travel in the last year to investigate how travel brands could improve their email marketing performance. The report suggests that travel marketers should be more mobile-friendly, highlight promotions in their marketing content, and limit overall email volume.

The majority of consumers plan their travel over a period of 30-180 days, with the travel planning process beginning an average of 84 days in advance according to Litmus. Many travel companies still focus on last-minute promotions in their email campaigns, however, so marketers should factor the length of the travel purchasing lifecycle when constructing their message strategy.

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“Book now” offers might still be fruitful for travel brands, as 36% of travelers responded that an email led to a purchase that wasn’t originally planned according to Litmus. This isn’t permission for travel brands to go haywire and send massive amounts of last-minute deals to subscribers, because travelers are already getting frustrated with the amount of email they receive.

Up to a third of respondents asserted they received emails from travel brands too frequently according to Litmus’ research, with house rental companies receiving the highest subscriber dissatisfaction with email volume.

The desire for better pricing is the most popular motivator to sign up for travel emails according to Litmus, so travel marketers should abide consumers’ desires for promotional deals in their email marketing campaigns. Price is also the most important factor for booking hotel rooms according to the report, although pricing was a less important for business travelers.

It’s also imperative that travel brands be more mobile-friendly, and Litmus recommends marketers use responsive or hybrid design to ensure emails render correctly no matter what device is being used. Almost half of consumers polled responded that they read emails from travel brands on their smartphone. Forty-five percent read emails on their smartphones, while 12% use tablets and 74% look at emails on their desktop or laptop computers.

Travel brands may also want to consider including dynamic content in their email campaigns that incorporate geographic and weather data. Almost half of the travelers polled by Litmus responded that weather plays a role in booking travel, with travelers from cold weather states even more likely to factor weather into consideration when planning a trip. 

Litmus works with a variety of travel brands, including Airbnb, Expedia, Lonely Planet, JetBlue, Hilton and booking.com. 

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