The Email Boarding Pass: How Travel Marketers Use The Channel

Travel marketers have some built-in in strengths when it comes to email. They pull higher read rates than average. And they have high rates of inbox placement.

But they are failing to send newsletters and pursue other types of customer engagement, judging by The Travel Company’s Guide to Email Marketing, a study by Return Path.

For example, only 3% of travel marketing campaigns are devoted to newsletters despite the fact that newsletters have a 14% higher read rate than the average email.

Birthday and abandoned cart messages make up less than 1% apiece of travel email. But birthday emails produce a 34.4% read rate, and abandoned cart emails generate a 20.3% conversion rate, research shows.

What’s more, birthday and abandoned cart emails generate inbox placement rates of close to 100% in the travel sector, compared to 93.1% for promotional emails. Of course, the highest placement rate—99%--is enjoyed by post-purchase emails. And they drive the highest read rate—57.3%.



This may show that “travel brands are not taking advantage of these opportunities to connect with subscribers, and should consider incorporating these important campaigns into their subscriber lifecycle,” the study states.

In general, the average read rate for travel emails is 24.5%, compared to an overall average of 21.5%, Return Path found. In addition, the travel category pulls a higher reply rate—0.22.% vs. 0.11%--and a lower complaint rate: 0.10% vs. 0.17%.

That said, travel has a slightly lower ‘This is not spam’ rate—1.69%, vs. an average 1.77%.

Overall, 54% of travel emails are read on mobile, 30% on webmail—via an internet browser—and 16% on desktop.

Gmail is the conduit for 64% of travel opens, vs. 17% for and 3% or Yahoo Mail. But Gmail poses some challenges for travel marketers.

One is Gmail’s tabbed inbox, the function that creates multiple inboxes for Gmail users.

Gmail places incoming email in one of five tabs: Primary, Promotions, Updates, Social, and Forums. The study shows that 86.6% of travel emails are classified in Promotions and  have a lower-than-average inbox placement rate: 87%.

In addition, The average inbox placement rate for travel marketers is 89%, 3% higher than the norm.

The highest placement rate occurs through AOL—98%. And the AOL read rate is 37%.

Yahoo Mail comes close—it’s inbox placement is 97%, and the read rate 27%.

In contrast, Gmail produces an 89% placement rate and a 24% read rate. Outlook does worse, with a 76% placement rate and a 16% read rate.

And the favored mobile device? Apple users produce 81% of all travel mobile opens.



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