Cut Marketing Costs With Email Marketing for Tour Operators

Cut Marketing Costs With an Email Marketing Strategy for Tour Operators

Marketing is an essential tool to create and maintain demand, relevance, brand awareness, increase sales, and ultimately, grow your business.

I know, tourism is going through a hard time, but not investing in marketing is something your business can’t afford in the long run.

Unlike many think, implementing a marketing strategy doesn’t need to be expensive. You can have all the benefits mentioned above in exchange for time and hard work.

Among all marketing strategies, email marketing stands out for being simple and cheap to implement. That’s why we will go into details on how to create an email marketing strategy for your tour business in this article.

Why should I create an email marketing strategy for my tour business?

cropped image of man holding speech bubble

I bet if you open right now your email, the inbox will be full of promotions and newsletters from lists you have signed up for.

If email marketing is not worth doing, trust me, those emails will not be there.

The reason why so many companies use email to promote their business is simple, email marketing is still effective.

People open their email every day, and when I say people I’m talking about 4 billion users! That is almost twice the number of users in the most popular social media, Facebook.

Furthermore, email marketing delivers $36 for every $1 spent.

No surprise it was the third most popular marketing approach in 2021, only behind Social Media and Websites.

Advantages of using email marketing

Email marketing is still popular because it has many advantages. The first and most important is the cost. Sending emails is cheap.

Other advantages are listed below:

  • You can send hyper personalized messages to your audience.
  • You can automate the comunication between your brand and potential customers.
  • Sending emails to a list doesn’t depend on third-party cookies (but you still need consent to send emails).
  • You can measure how effective is your campaign.
  • You own your audience despite the platform you use to send emails.

In short, sending emails is worth the effort. Now let’s dive into how you can implement e low-cost email marketing strategy that will bring you new bookings in 2022.

Email marketing strategy for tour operators

email app icon

Travelers usually need lots of touchpoints and several months before making a booking decision. That gives you time to nurture your customers in order to receive a booking in the future.

Imagine a potential customer who is dreaming of a place to visit. Being inspired by your emails is a good way to start a relationship with your brand.

As time passes and the high season approaches, you can switch the inspirational emails for informative emails about planning a trip to your destination.

Finally, one month prior to the high season, start sending promotional emails with a clear call to action to book a tour with you. If your contacts were engaged with your previous emails, chances are they will book a tour with you.

Email marketing sounds simple, isn’t it?

Yes, it is, but handling an email marketing campaign manually can become complex. That’s why you need to automate your job.

What is necessary to run an email marketing campaign?

To build up an email marketing strategy for your tour business you will need essentially three things:

  1. An email marketing platform
  2. An email list
  3. Relevant content to send to your contatcs

All the rest depends on your ability to create engaging emails and to find out which email flow best works for your business.

In the next sections of this article we will go through everything you need to know to run an email marketing campaign that will boost your bookings.

Choosing an email platform

computer open email screen

The first step in your email marketing strategy is to choose an email service provider that has all the features you need for your campaigns.

This tool will help you with the design and automation of your emails. Also, you will use it to build and manage your email list.

There are a variety of email marketing service tools available with different pricing plans. Fortunately, most offer free plans.

Mailchimp

It’s not for nothing Mailchimp is the most popular email marketing platform among marketers. This tool offers list segmentation, A/B testing, contact profiles, beautiful email templates, landing pages and much more.

Another big advantage is that you can easily integrate Mailchimp with almost any other online tool, like WordPress websites.

Its free plan allows you to have up to 2,000 contacts and send 10,000 emails monthly. Ideal for small businesses.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t allow you to schedule emails or build an automated email workflow. For that purpose, you will need a paid version of Mailchimp. You can sign up for this tool here.

MailerLite

MailerLite is not as popular as Mailchimp but its free plan has everything you need to tun your email marketing campaign. Including email automation and A/B testing.

These features are very important for email nurturing campaigns, which we will discuss further in this article. Also, A/B testing helps you in crafting high-converting emails.

With MailerLite free you can have up to 1,000 contacts and send up to 12,000 emails per month.

I would go for this option if I were a tour operator with a tight budget. You can sign up for a MailerLite free account here.

Sendinblue

This one is a good alternative for Mailerlite. It also offers a free account with email marketing automation for your nurture campaigns.

A great advantage of Sendinblue is that it doesn’t have a contact limit. So, if you already have an email list bigger than 1,000 contacts, this is the right tool for you.

Its free plan also comes with a chat feature. You have 1 user chat to install on your website and talk with customers in real time!

The downside of Sendinblue is that you can only send up to 300 emails per day using the free plan.

Aren’t you delighted by the options presented?

There are many other email platforms available in the market with a free account. Check out this list from HubSpot to know more options.

Now that you have selected the best platform for your business, let’s take a look at how to build an email list.

Building an email list

man writing audience board

To start with email marketing you need a list filled with email addresses. Obviously.

At this stage, it’s important that you have already chosen your email service tool because you will need it to capture emails.

All the platforms presented in this article have the option to create a form. You will need one to start with your list.

You can place it on your website as a popup or embed it on a landing page. It’s important that you have a link with the form in order to capture email addresses and store them in your email service provider.

Don’t forget to ask consent for contacts to send emails when asking their email addresses!

Most email marketing platforms have an opt-in option added to the form, so that should not be an issue.

Once you have your form set up, take a look at a few strategies to collect emails from potential guests.

Capturing emails for your list

Think of email addresses as a currency. In order to have one, you will need to give something in exchange.

Some ideas are:

  • A newsletter signature for emails about your destination, travel tips and amazing visuals of its tourist attractions.
  • An ebook showing off the local culture, food and hidden gems.
  • Host a giveaway and the prize could be a local souvenir.
  • A checklist of what to bring to your destination during a specific season.
  • A free itinerary for tourists.

Barcelona Tours email list strategy

barcelona image

Let’s imagine a fictional walking tour operator called Barcelona Tours. In order to build an email list, they decided to offer a virtual tour of Barcelona for free once a month.

For that to work, they built a landing page about this virtual tour using their email marketing platform. There, they explained in detail what the tour is about, for whom, the itinerary, and other useful information.

In order to enjoy the virtual experience, users should signup using a form on the page.

To advertise this initiative, they placed banners on their website, posted about it on social media and also asked partners to share their landing page link.

As an extra incentive, people who attended the virtual tour would also receive a 10% discount on a live tour when visiting Barcelona.

One day before the virtual tour, they scheduled an email with a Zoom link for the experience. They also scheduled a reminder for 30 minutes prior to the tour.

After a year they had more than 500 emails of potential clients without spending $1!

Remember, the success of your email marketing strategy relies on the quality of the contacts in your email list.

Nurturing your leads with email marketing

man writing wrokflow on board

Congratulations, you have a respectful email list!

Now, what should you do with all those contacts?

First thing is to automate an email flow to push leads down the marketing funnel until they book with you.

It works this way. After submitting one of your forms your new contact will receive a series of emails in the following weeks. The purpose of those emails is to nurture and warm up your fresh lead for a sale.

Do you remember how the buyer’s journey in travel works?

Basically, travelers go through dreaming, considering and planning phases before booking.

To effectively communicate with them, it is important to segment your contacts and create emails for each stage of this journey.

So, let’s get back to Barcelona Tours, our fictional walking tour operator, and see what they did to nurture their contacts.

Barcelona Tours email nurturing strategy

The tour operator in our previous example decided to build the following automated flow for users that signed up for their virtual tour:

  1. As soon as a new contact sign up they receive a welcome email with information about the virtual tour, also more details about the company.
  2. One week after the first email, leads receive an itinerary with fun facts and extra information about the sights in the virtual tour.
  3. Fithteen days after the first email another is sent with tips on the best restaurants to visit in Barcelona.
  4. In the third week, ideas for the best places to take an Instagram picture in Barcelona.
  5. The next is an email with the subject line “This is why you can’t miss a walking tour in Barcelona”.
  6. In the fith week, a formal presentation of the company showing off why travelers should book with them.
  7. In the sixth week, testimonials of past guests.
  8. Finally, an email inviting users to book a walking tour in Barcelona.

This is a simple example to start with. Nurturing flows can grow complex with lots of conditions and different email triggers.

With time you will understand better your audience behavior towards your emails and improve your campaigns.

Sending newsletters

gmail home screen

Another option to nurture leads is sending regular newsletters to your contact base.

Your newsletter could be about anything that is interesting to your targeted customers, just make sure the topic is related to your product offer.

Sending a monthly newsletter showing off the local culture, natural landscapes or giving travel tips is something your potential guests would probably love.

The point of sending regular newsletters is to raise brand awareness and inspire travelers to book with you.

So try to be as consistent as possible with your communication.

Another uses for email marketing

Nurturing potential guests with automated emails is probably one of the best uses for email marketing in travel.

But you can also send emails for other purposes.

Once you have a solid base of contacts you can segment them according to metrics such as email open rate and link clicks.

The contacts more engaged with your emails are the ones you should send promotions and talk more directly about booking with you.

Creating brand advocates

You probably have the email address of past customers. Segment them inside your email marketing platform to send information about new products, ask for feedback and even invite them to book next season.

Maintaining a relationship with past guests is essential to building brand advocates. Those are people who will elevate your brand through word of mouth marketing.

Sending relevant information via email is a good way to keep an ongoing relationship with past customers.

How Barcelona Tours reengage past guests through email marketing

barcelona sight

Our fictional tour operator has a folder on the cloud where they keep all the pictures taken during the tour.

When the high season approaches, their past guests receive a link to those pictures. This is a way for them to remember how great was the experience and entice them to live it again.

This link is sent through email automation. No need to keep track of a calendar.

Conclusion

If you are tight on your budget don’t give up on marketing, switch your efforts from paid campaigns to email marketing.

Once you have your strategy set all your hard work will pay off.

Remember, for that you will need:

  • An email marketing platform
  • An email list
  • Relevant content

Set up your automation and optimize your campaigns over time according. to your metrics.

If you liked this article, don’t miss out on our ebook “A Simple Guide on How to Sell Tours With Facebook“. Download it for free now.

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