How Well Are You Using Email Marketing for Your Tour Operator Business?

Frida Kops   ● 8 min read
This article forms part of a weekly newsletter series that’s sent directly to travel industry professionals every Friday.
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In a recent HubSpot survey, 59% of respondents reported that marketing emails influence their purchasing decisions. It also increases your leads, drives traffic to your website, and costs you next to nothing compared to other forms of outbound marketing. I’ll explore how your tour operator business can utilise email marketing to its maximum potential.

Let’s get started. 

Here's this week's roundup:

How Operators Are Changing Their Pre-travel Packs for the Restart of Tourism

Source: TTG

Some tour operators have recognised an opportunity to enhance their customer service, by amending their pre-travel policies and email broadcasts to ensure clients are fully prepared to travel. 

Caribtours, a luxury tour operator has done just that. For example, adding branded, reusable face masks to their pre-travel packs for customers. The company has also adjusted the lead time on distributing travel documents. They ensure the delivery of documentation six weeks before departure rather than three.

“We all need to be very mindful of people’s sensitivities as they start travelling again in these uncertain terms – any reassurance we can give will be welcome.”

-Paul Cleary, managing director at Caribtours

Solo traveller-specialist tour operator, Friendship Travel, applies similar tactics. This travel company gifts face masks, hand sanitisers, and even pens to complete the required COVID-19 forms. Colum McLornan, managing director of Friendship Travel, believes these measures are necessary. He says that despite extra costs, they should help tour operators “sell more and get things back to some sense of normality.”

I agree with McLornan that tour operators are more important now than ever before. People want to get travel advice from industry experts to feel confident and safe. That’s why it’s important to include in the emails, information relating not only to the tour but any other relevant info. You can provide guidance on what to expect from hotels, airport transfers, and restaurants. 

Have you adjusted your email marketing strategy to relay this additional information to your customers?

Read the full article here.

Newly Released, Next Seven Activities-Adventure Travel Health & Safety Guidelines

Source: ATTA

email marketing for your tour operator business

An additional 7 Health and Safety Guidelines to the previous three I discussed last month from The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) in collaboration with Cleveland Clinic. They are freely available for everyone in the tourism industry. 

Interested to learn about previously released H&S Guidelines by ATTA?

I discuss them in detail in this article

The new guidelines cover the following activities:
  1. Camping including food preparation in the field
  2. Culinary experiences
  3. Cultural tours/sightseeing
  4. Small lodges
  5. Small vessels cruising
  6. Skiing and snowboarding
  7. Wildlife experiences


ATTA’s experts wanted to ensure that tour operators globally could use the guidelines. For this purpose, they worked closely with industry professionals. As a result, the guidelines are specific enough to be useful for the reopening of the industry. At the same time, they are generic enough to be implemented in different stages of the reopening process.

Following many requests from the community, ATTA has created a “We Follow the ATTA COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines” badge. It allows tour operators to demonstrate their compliance with the industry’s latest recommendations. 

Read the full article here.

Customer Hesitancy Is Preventing Lookers From Becoming Bookers, Says Bd4travel

Source: Travolution

Despite the increased interest in travel, “lookers” continue to outnumber “bookers”. This is a result of recent research conducted by consumer behaviour specialist bd4travel. 

The company divides website visitors into 4 categories: a Looker, a Planner, a Booker, and a Customer. The data reveals that the shift from a “looker” to a “planner” is at very low levels. The share of Lookers has increased by 9% with Planners down 28%, Bookers down 42% and Customers down by 43%

So, why is this happening? 

Because travellers are not finding the right product. They are “still hesitant over which destinations will be open and the risk of booking cancellations.” 

email marketing for your tour operator business
Source: bd4travel

“Travellers will for some time have a mix of reasons to be visiting your travel platform, the more you understand their personal intent the better you can understand which products and promotions to present.”

How can tour operators help?

Firstly, by offering relevant and targeted products to your customers. Your website content and email marketing strategy are powerful tools to use. Travel professionals should constantly analyse the behaviour of online visitors and try to understand the reasons behind it.

How productive is email marketing for your tour operator business? Do you make sure to promote only relevant and targeted products to your audience?

Read the full article here.

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10 Email Marketing Challenges You Can Fix Right Now

email marketing for your tour operator business

Email marketing is one of the most efficient online marketing channels. A properly developed email marketing strategy increases traffic, sales, and customer loyalty

 In fact, 59% of marketers consider email marketing their top-performing channel with the best ROI (source: Hubspot). But the problem is that email marketing for your tour operator business comes with certain challenges.

Here are the top 10 email marketing challenges:

1. Integrating email data with other data systems. Data integration helps to create optimised email content and attract more customers. There are several steps your tour operator business can undertake. They include the implementation of data-integration tools, experimenting with segmentation, and creating impactful content

2. Improving deliverability. Inaccurate information of your contacts can negatively impact the deliverability of your emails. Why should you prevent that? Because some internet service providers can block you if you have a low deliverability rate. Besides, you will waste your time, efforts, and financial resources trying to reach non-existent contacts. 

So, what’s the solution? Update the subscribers’ list regularly and provide your customers with an option to amend their information. 

3. Growing and retaining subscribers. There are a few things your tour operator business can do to grow your subscribers’ list. First, your emails need to provide a clear value proposition. The next step is to create targeted messages according to the available information about your customers. Their needs vary depending on which stage they are at in the sales funnel. 

4. Achieving measurable ROI. It is crucial to understand what the return on investment is on your email marketing strategy. To do that, your tour operator business needs to consider having a system in place that tracks all interactions of a contact with your website.

email marketing for your tour operator business
I know that’s a lot to take in, but bear with me…

5. Using email for funnel optimisation. Email marketing is a key element of your sales strategy. Your tour operator business can automate the process of qualifying a new sales lead. After receiving emails with relevant and valuable information, your prospect might engage immediately.

6. Leveraging personalisation. Besides adding the recipient’s name, how do you personalise your emails? Do you offer discounts on a customer’s birthday? You can also make recommendations based on their past engagement with your content. 

7. Reducing spam complaints. The best way to do this is to deliver relevant content. Also, it is good to develop a helpful marketing messaging voice. Your emails should sound friendly, coming from a person who simply wants to help.

8. Increasing open rates. Two weeks ago I discussed in my blog article the reasons behind the drop in email open rates. Several things can cause this but quite often it’s down to your subject line. If the subject line and the text preview don’t attract the attention of readers, they are not going to open your email.

Interested to know what causes a decline in email open rate?

I highlight the most common reasons and tips on how to fix them in this article.

9. Improving CTR. Your customers receive your emails, open them but they don’t click on the links leading to your products. Disappointing, isn’t it? Check your call to action (CTA) buttons. Are they clear and visible enough? It is very unlikely that your customers are going to click on the link if you don’t ask them. 

10. Achieving mobile optimisation. I am sure you are already well aware of that. No need to mention that for your email marketing campaign to be successful, it needs to be optimised for mobile devices.

Read the full article here.

The Anatomy of a Great ‘We Are Reopening’ Email

Source: Econsultancy

email marketing for your tour operator business

Do you remember those countless emails from CEOs at the start of lockdown? How many of them did you actually read until the end (or read at all)?

Communicating simple messages to your customers can be challenging. The tips I describe below will help you to write a great ‘we are reopening’ email. You will learn how to provide your customers with the information they need and encourage them to book with you.

  • An enticing subject line (no escape from that huh?). Rather than having a subject line simply stating “we are reopening”, it is worth thinking about something more creative. The recipients should be curious after reading the subject line.
  • Keep it simple. Include only the most pertinent information using bullet points. Let your customers know when you are reopening; what measures you have in place to keep them safe, and how new requirements affect them.
  • Don’t be afraid to include selling points (but do it with style). Include images, and videos to remind your customers about the great destinations, and experiences they miss so much.
  • Multichannel consistency. When you work on email marketing for your tour operator business, it is nice to be consistent across all communication channels. Therefore, it’s easier for customers to recognise your brand when they see the same colour palette and images everywhere.
  • Reassurance. There’s no doubt that all travel companies mention their H&S protocols in their reopening emails. But tour operator businesses can take it further. Think of ways to showcase proof that your travel business is compliant with the industry’s latest recommendations. For example, the ATTA badge described above.

I am curious, have you already written your ‘we are reopening’ email? 

Read the full article here.

Correct This Leadership Mistake for a Culture of Attention Management

Source: Forbes

email marketing for your tour operator business

Leadership mistakes can have a huge impact on employee productivity. In turn, contributing to feelings of pressure and anxiety amongst teams. One mistake that leaders make repeatedly, relates to email communication. Most organisations use email as the main form of internal corporate communication. This, based on the assumption that prompt responses lead to better customer service. 

But the truth is, this approach is devastating to productivity.

“Synchronous email communication might feel productive, because every message addressed feels like one less thing you have to do—an imaginary check off your mental to-do list.”

Trying to reply to every email as it comes, harms productivity. Employees end up in a constant state of switching-between important work and monitoring emails. This results in their attention never being truly devoted to one thing. Employees might feel that they don’t have enough time to accomplish all tasks. The reality is that they have too much distraction.

That’s why an attention management approach is an optimal solution.

For employees to maintain “brain-power momentum” and productivity, there needs to be a clear policy on response time expectations for internal emails. Besides, in many situations, email communication is not the best choice. For example, for urgent matters, you can use team collaboration tools, such as Slack.

Your policy should consider different job roles. Some need more leeway to draft a response. The bottom line is to create a culture that makes your team demonstrate the best results.

Read the full article here.

A statistic I found interesting:

Global email open rates increased at an average of 4.7% from February to April. (ClickZ)

A question for you:

Do you need help putting processes in place for your business, such as email automation?

Share your thoughts and comments on our Facebook and Linkedin page or drop me an email at [email protected] – I’d love to hear from you.

The 10xpress is a weekly series curated exclusively for travel companies like you

Every week, I provide you with:

  • Reports, opinion, case studies and key findings that directly impact the tours and activities sector.
  • Educational articles to guide you through the changing world of online sales and marketing from industry leaders.
  • Tips and tools on how to improve your tour operator business, generate more sales and make your life easier.
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