Travel marketers fail to engage with email customers

Only 30 percent of email marketers are using subscriber information and behaviour to target customers with pre- and post-stay emails, signaling a significant market opportunity to increase revenue and differentiate their brand, according to new research.

The research was commissioned by email marketing firm StrongMail and carried out by email marketing analyst and Relevancy Group CEO David Daniels.

The study also shows that 42 percent of travel marketers plan to integrate social media into email marketing programmes this year. 28 percent are analysing the social influence of their subscribers and using that to target their email campaigns, and just over a third plan to embrace this tactic within the next year.

The report, "Connected Marketing for Travel Providers," was authored after surveying email marketers from mid-to-large size companies in the USA and UK.

The report also illustrated that those companies that were using technology to target customers' preferences and behaviour were generating nearly twice as much revenue from their lifecycle email programmes.

According to the survey, the top three email marketing initiatives for the travel industry in 2010 are increased email deliverability rates (38%), integrating email and social media (37%) and improved targeting of programmes (35%). The travel industry continues to be plagued with customer churn, amplified by people opting against travelling abroad during the recession.

Accordingly, the top three email marketing challenges cited for 2010 are list turnover (32%), email deliverability (29%) and frequency management (28%).

Daniels said: "Travel marketers could benefit significantly by leveraging customer data to send more targeted messages throughout the customer lifecycle, and they should seriously evaluate whether their current email marketing technology and expertise can support key requirements for making this approach work."

"Delivering highly personalised and targeted messages that are both expected and valued by our guests is a top priority for IHG," said Kevin Hickey, global manager of lifecycle and email marketing at InterContinental Hotels Group. "In addition to providing us with real-time access to response data, StrongMail's platform offers us more integration capabilities to segment our lists based on individual customer preferences, behaviors and events."

"This report highlights the opportunities for travel companies to better leverage customer data in conjunction with email marketing and social media integration to connect with individuals and send more targeted, effective and profitable messages," said Kara Trivunovic, senior director of strategic services at StrongMail.

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