Travel Companies That Use Email Marketing

As businesses evolve and adapt to the digital age, the role of marketing changes too. Once considered a supporting function to sales and product development, marketing is now a central part of the business strategy.

In the travel industry, for example, marketing plays a crucial role in generating bookings and developing relationships with key stakeholders. Research shows that when marketing departments improve their email marketing practices, they see a 23% increase in revenue.

Marketing agencies that specialize in the travel industry identify customer engagement and relationship building as key strategies, along with marketing automation and inbound methodologies. These approaches emphasize the importance of establishing strong ties with existing and potential customers, rather than relying on traditional marketing tactics such as advertising.

Here are four travel companies—TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Viator, and Zoomcar—that have created successful email marketing programs and how you can learn from their experience.

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is one of the world’s largest travel websites with 140MM+ monthly active users. To reach this audience, CEO Steve Kauffman used email marketing to grow the business by 25% within three months of implementing the strategy.

The company’s email marketing efforts have evolved over the years, and today it focuses on providing value for its audience, not just selling them travel products. For example, the platform provides users with travel tips and suggestions, as well as connects them with relevant businesses and locals, facilitating their travel planning.

As a result of its focus on value, TripAdvisor sees a 20%–25% decrease in unsubscribes and a 35% increase in revenue when compared to businesses that use traditional marketing techniques. “Our email marketing is definitely working,” said Kauffman. “Not only are we getting a great response from our customers, but we’re also seeing an increase in business as a result of our efforts.”

TripAdvisor differentiates itself from other travel websites by integrating a social component into its email marketing. The company compiles and analyses feedback from its users to determine the effectiveness of each email. In addition to customer value, TripAdvisor uses this data to provide highly relevant feedback to its marketing team, including suggestions on topics, offers, and design.

A key part of TripAdvisor’s strategy is creating a positive experience for customers. To achieve this, the company focuses on delighting users with relevant offers and content. In one example, the company offers deep discounts on hotel rooms to students traveling to Italy—a country that many consider to be among the most beautiful in the world. By integrating social media strategies into its email marketing, TripAdvisor aims to create word-of-mouth awareness among its users, enhancing its reach and providing more opportunities for growth.

Booking.com

Booking.com is a travel search website owned by the travel agency, Travelocity. With 170MM+ monthly active users across all its websites (Travelocity, Booking.com, and Kayak), the company has one of the largest travel audiences in the industry.

To engage this audience, CEO Barney Francis used email marketing to boost his business’s revenue by 23% in just two months. Booking.com’s email marketing efforts play a fundamental role in connecting travelers with the best prices and deals, as well as promoting brands and products that align with the platform’s strategic objectives.

One of the company’s largest projects was the redesign of its email marketing platform. After extensively testing and analyzing the results of numerous iterations, Booking.com launched its new, optimized email marketing platform in May 2018.

In the past, Booking.com’s emails were highly promotional in nature, but the redesign focused on providing value to its customers, not just pitching them on more travel.

As a result of the redesign, the company saw a 15% decrease in unsubscribes and a 21% increase in revenue when compared to emails sent prior to May 2018.

In 2018, Booking.com plans to continue refining its email marketing approach, including experimenting with different subject lines, offers, and content to determine what resonates with its audience, as well as identifying new ways to attract and retain customers.

Viator

Viator is a travel video website that was created in 2011 and is now a part of the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) portfolio. With 500MM+ monthly active users, this is the largest travel video audience in the industry. (It should be noted that while the video platform is popular, it is also a freemium service, so the revenue is shared with PWC.)

To reach this audience, CMO and co-Founder Stefanie Kaplanski used email marketing to grow her business by 23% in 2018. Viator’s primary goal is to entertain and engage its audience with travel videos.

The company uploads daily video content to its platforms, including YouTube and Facebook, in a bid to keep users engaged with relevant and fresh content. In an effort to stand out from the crowd, Viator focuses on creating niche content, such as food and travel guides, to engage its audience. For example, the platform’s travel section has 20 travel videos curated from different travel destinations, all shot on the company’s dime and featuring in-demand travelers and chefs as experts—a strategy that the company hopes will drive incremental growth.

As part of its strategy, the company uses email marketing to keep users engaged, reminding them to check back for new content and featuring evergreen content, such as travel tips and videos of destinations, to maintain engagement.

Zoomcar

Zoomcar is a car-sharing platform that was established in 2011 and is now a part of the Turo Inc. portfolio. (It should be noted that while the car-sharing platform is popular, it is also a freemium service, so the revenue is shared with Turo.)

To grow its business, Head of Marketing Emmanuel Barros used email marketing to drive 23% growth in 2018. Zoomcar’s primary goal is to increase its user base as much as possible while keeping them engaged with the platform.

To drive this growth, the company offers financial incentives, such as cash back, to users who refer new customers. Incentives are a common approach because research shows that people who receive cash back for referring friends and family members to a product are four times more likely to purchase that product themselves.

To further engage its audience, Zoomcar focuses on creating niche content, such as guides to buying a car or a checkup on vehicle health, to establish credibility with users. Additionally, the platform places a high emphasis on cross-platform measurement and attribution to determine the effectiveness of its various marketing efforts.

These examples show that even big businesses, like TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and Viator, are realizing the power of email marketing. Not only does it provide a steady stream of revenue, but it also allows businesses to understand their audience, establish credibility, and test different approaches, all of which drive business growth.

If your business hasn’t yet adopted email marketing, now might be the right time to consider implementing a program. With the right tools and tactics, you can create a steady stream of revenue and gain valuable insights into your target audience.

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