We had a wonderful time yesterday with Tim Brechlin and the Greater Madison CVB, a WhatCounts client, as we looked at travel email marketing strategies and ideas. As happens frequently, we had more questions than we had time for, so we thought we’d answer the questions we didn’t get to here.
Q: What are you thoughts on weather relevancy?
Weather relevancy is highly dependent on the destination and activities people do. For some activities, like skiing, regular, frequent emails to active skiers staying at your resort about weather and powder conditions would not only be welcome, but likely expected. For other destinations, say New York City as a whole, there are so many choices for things to do that weather might be less relevant for an email campaign.
Q: You covered lots of great email capture tactics. I have a question about a tactic i would like to try – would like your input. We have a “send to a friend” function that is well used. I would like to start capturing these emails and sending them one or two “unsolicited” emails to ask if they would like to opt in. Is that cool?
Generally speaking, you’d have to disclose that prominently so that people knew what you were doing with the information they submitted. Individual, one-off unsolicited emails are legally okay as long as you include and honor the opt-out mechanism, but ISPs don’t care whether something is legal or not; if a user marks you as spam, you take the reputation hit. Test it out in a very controlled test and see if you get any complaints, and if you do, discontinue.
Q: How long before a compelling event in a destination would you recommend we start promoting it via email?
Generally speaking, in the events world, there are 3 classes of people. There are the hardcore fans who will book and buy as early as possible. If you announce next year’s event at this year’s event, they’re the ones asking to sign up now.
The second group of people are the prepared visitors. These folks register reasonably early, plan ahead, book their travel, and are thoughtful. These are the folks that you want to use as your early indicator that it’s time to roll out your email campaigns.
The final class of people are the impulse buyers and the “failure to plan ahead” crowd. They’re registering at the last minute and paying exorbitant travel costs because they realized the event was tomorrow. You want to make sure you have frequent email campaigns to capture these folks – and possibly higher prices, too.
Take a recent event’s booking data and put it on a spreadsheet, organize it by date, and look for patterns in the data that show when each class of person is signing up or booking, and then put your email campaigns for future events 3-7 days ahead of those waves at a minimum, with an email in the middle of the wave, and an email 80% of the way through the wave.
Thanks again for attending the webinar! The slides, audio, and video are available here for download.
Christopher S. Penn
Director of Inbound Marketing, WhatCounts