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How to Get Started in Hospitality Email Marketing

Danielle Collard
13 Nov 2023

It’s easy to overlook email when marketing your business. In our personal inbox, we are very used to filtering out as much spam as possible. Many marketing emails get filed in this way and thus never get a look in.

However, email marketing has the greatest return on investment of all kinds of marketing, and can be used to bring new customers in as well as maintain existing ones with better engagement and new sales.

But if email marketing isn’t something you’ve done before, it might feel a little daunting to contact so many customers and potential customers at once. So here’s some advice to help get you started.

Establishing a sign-up process

The first important point to note in this process is that emailing your customers without consent is more likely to cost you customers and reputation than to help drum up business. But these days, businesses take customer emails all the time, especially in the hospitality industry. So ensuring that you take customer emails during points of contact and then taking marketing consent can provide you with a useful selection of email addresses.

Restaurants and hotels confirming bookings and arranging visits via email is now industry standard. When this information is taken, it takes very little time to confirm consent for marketing emails as part of that process.

If a booking is made online, as many are, a tickbox confirming whether the customer would like to receive marketing emails or not can establish consent. If booking in person or over the phone, this simply means asking the question after taking the email.

Following a positive answer, the customer can then be placed in your marketing lists.

Different types of email marketing

As you build your email list, it’s important to have a marketing strategy to manage your relationship with that customer. Inundating new customers with messages, or even contacting them once in a blue moon, will lead to that person disengaging with the business. That’s why considered contact for specific reasons is the key to success.

Welcome emails

Contacting new customers with information they may find useful and introducing them to the business is a common and unimposing form of marketing that most customers are happy to experience. Whether this is a business traveller staying for the first time as a hotel guest or a family visiting a nearby restaurant for the first time, customers can find these emails very useful.

While a welcome email may be a light, easy read for the guest, it’s crucial to consider which information to include in a welcome email. Write too little information in a welcome email and it will be quickly discarded as aimless contact (which could reduce the efficacy of future emails as well). But excessive upselling content in an email can have a similar effect.

However, a tailored email that provides any necessary information, such as contact or parking information, useful links, as well as upselling events or menu offers of note can show an attention to detail that customers enjoy. Balancing need-to-know information with commercial offers makes these kinds of marketing communications subtle sellers.

Promotional and seasonal campaigns

Most businesses in hospitality are hugely influenced by seasonal trade. Summer holidays and Christmas, local tourism and special events provide much-needed boosts to hotels, bars and restaurants that can more than make up for an otherwise quiet year.

Making the most of these vital opportunities means running marketing campaigns to get the word out on new menus, new offers and exciting events that will set your business apart from the competition. 

Choosing the right moment and material to achieve this is crucial, then building interest through the right subject line and composition is no easy feat, but getting it right can have a big impact on your conversion rates.

If this kind of marketing is something you may struggle with, there are many booking request email templates available online, and guides to help you understand what principles you need to follow. Epos Now has written articles explaining the four Ps and seven Ps of marketing respectively, but in short, these are:

  • Product - Promotional emails do not tend to simply advertise the business, but a specific product (or range of products) that the customer can purchase which fulfils an anticipated need that they have.
  • Place - Raising awareness of your location is a key part of business, especially in hospitality where your location is part of what you sell. Use of images, reference to nearby places of interest or even complementary businesses (though not competition) can be valuable to your business and can bring in the trade.
  • Price - The reader of your email will be aware they are reading marketing material, so informing them of the price is essential in your material. Pricing a product is difficult as going too high or too low can both be off-putting for some customers.
  • Promotion - The product or special event mentioned in your email will need to be remarkable in some way. This may be because it is discounted and you can advertise the knock-down price or special offer. Or the product may be sold in a unique way and for a limited time which provides urgency to the customer and motive for the email.

The best promotional emails will have product, place, price and promotion that complement each other to make an appealing offer to the customer enticing them to visit the business for a special, short-term service that will make their month.

Finally, finding ways to make your call to action appeal to your specific customer base is invaluable. If there are different demographics that frequent your business, finding ways to market more specifically, such as separate marketing channels or email subscriber groups will help you market in a personal, considerate manner.

The Newsletter

Bar, restaurant and hotel email marketing can also be effectively carried out through a regular newsletter that can be a similar, subtle seller to the welcome email. Newsletters inform customers of changes to the local area, of the business, and can contain interesting articles about any number of other topics.

Newsletters, rather than being purposed around selling specific products or services (though they can do this), sell and cultivate stronger ties between your business and your customers. A customer that regularly reads your newsletter experiences a narrative about the life of your business and its people, and will have greater insight and emotional investment.

Managing your relationship with customers through a newsletter is, therefore, every bit as valuable as more direct marketing. It makes it more difficult for people to lose touch with your business and ensures that when they need your services, your business will be one of the first they think of.

While it’s easy to recognise the value of newsletters in email marketing for hotels and restaurants, understanding what should be included is difficult. However, none of the below options would be out of place in a newsletter:

  • A summary of recent events in the business including new staff members, staff achievements, expansion or construction carried out and new purchases related to services such as equipment and what these purchases will allow the business to do for customers.
  • Details of future plans regarding events, expansion or construction planning and upcoming seasonal offers.
  • Testimonials of pleasant experiences had during on-site functions or bookings, alongside attendance figures and non-financial business statistics.
  • Articles on the community or local area including news of interest to hotel or restaurant guests due to its proximity to the business. Attracting customers to the area also attracts them to the business.
  • Personal stories from staff, customers or other affiliated figures about the business, and experiences had with the business.

Any and all of these features go well in a newsletter, though paying for the production of this content can be a little more expensive. For this reason, a newsletter doesn’t need to be extensively long, nor does it need to be all that frequent. Smaller businesses might publish two to four newsletters each year to good effect, although a monthly newsletter is often the ideal frequency if it can be achieved.

Making the most of your system

Regardless of the manner in which you market your business, a positive tone and exciting information to impart to your reader is an excellent start. Epos Now have plenty more resources to help you gain confidence in this key part of business.

Integrating Mailchimp to your system can help you automate your marketing system, giving you more time to work on email quality. Mailchimp provides the opportunity to tailor your communications based on purchasing behaviour and customer tastes, benefiting from dedicated marketing analytics and reports.

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