As a tour operator, you’ve likely got some interest in writing tourism emails. Or rather, you’d like to take advantage of tourism email marketing to get more bookings.
To that end, I’d like to share what I’ve learned as a producer and copywriter to help you use the power of storytelling and couple it with an easy-to-use email sequence to get people on board with your business.
You’ve got your website. You’ve got your travel packages and trips and trinkets to sell.
But how do you get people to go from leafing through your pages… to locking into a commitment?
Read on. Together, we’ll make this year your year.
Before the Open: Our Steps to Success
Let’s take stock of where you are before we dive into writing some effective emails.
You’ve got your business. You put time into your website and social media. You might have some great videos on YouTube, some compelling stories, some ads… All designed to drive travelers to your site, to visit, click, read and…
Book the trip. Buy the thing. Commit to you.
But before you can get them to commit… you first need to connect.
And to do that, they need to get to know you.
As nice as it would be to have the chance to get to know each and every person who visits your website, I’m guessing you have some other parts of your business to work on.
So that’s why I put together these seven steps (today we’re focusing on Number Three) to successfully connect with your potential customers.
1. A Way to Get Their Email Addresses.
Through a sign-up form, most likely. After all, you’ve got to have people’s emails to email them!
2. A Reason to Sign-up.
People get a lot of emails, so they’re not just going to give over their email address to anyone. You’ll have to give them a darn good reason to sign up.
3. An Automated Email Series.
Read on for 7 easy emails you can put together today to turn your casual visitors into lifelong fans.
4. Regular Writing.
This is a relationship, not a one-night stand. You have to be consistent.
5. Stay Engaged.
Respond to questions. Follow-up. By starting conversations, you’ll put a face to your brand.
6. Let Them Book.
Yes, discounts, sales, and promotions work to push customers over the edge. But ultimately you need a system you can count on, and this system we’ll develop will bring in sales all year long.
7. Become Their New Favorite Business.
And it could all happen automatically. Doesn’t that sound nice?
But how does it all work?
The Automated Seven-Email Series
This article is focused on Step 3. This is an automated set of emails that help to give your potential customer a better idea of just who it is you are.
What does that even mean?
Well, when they sign-up to receive your messages, that triggers this automatic set of emails to be sent over a period of time. Let’s say it’s two weeks.
So without you doing anything (except this initial work), you get a chance to send thoughtful, hand-crafted, powerful messages to potential travelers.
Pretty nice, right?
Your email series may have more emails than seven (a good idea for a bigger-ticket purchase, like a trip) or less (works better for smaller items) but by setting out your outline and then fleshing it out with the help of your marketing team or a copywriter, you’ll establish in your customer’s mind a favorable, engaging brand story.
These seven steps will be written out in the format of an email to give you the sense of what your potential customer might go through.
They are here to give you an idea, from the draw of the subject line, to the formatting of the email, how these can look, and how they can work in concert together.
So, let’s get to it.
The Seven Tourism Marketing Emails You Need
Email #1: The Welcome Email
Subject: Thanks for signing up
Welcome to the welcome email. You’re probably pretty familiar with these.
This is the thank-them-for-signing-up email.
This is the deliver-what-it-is that they clicked on email (what they call a lead generator in the biz).
This is the maybe-it’s-a-10%-off-your-first-purchase email.
Maybe it’s a webinar. Maybe it’s a PDF (like this one). Maybe it’s your own email series.
Whatever it is you promised them (and I can help you brainstorm ideas if need be) the main thing to keep in mind is: if I were my customer, would I want this thing?
If you’re a travel agency selling trips to South America, think beyond a brochure of your trips. What about an indigenous language cheat sheet? What about a 36-hour-guide for a city to sell them on a place? What about easy-to-do recipes to get them in the mood?
Now’s not the time to do the hard sell. Now’s the time to prove that you have your customer’s best interests in mind. You’re their resource.
Try to ask a question at the end (and respond!). On the technical side, engagement helps your emails get delivered. On the human side, communication will ensure your emails get read.
Length: Short and sweet [~150 words].
To Do: Deliver on the promise of their initial sign up. Then ask them a question.
Best Practices: Make it about them.
How’s that sound? Think you can fit that into a first email?
P.S. Don’t forget to tease what your series has coming up. A hint at the story for Email Number 2 will prime them to open it. “You’ll never believe how a snake bite led me to open my juice bar…”
Email #2: The Creation Story
Subject: When that snake bit me, this was the last thing on my mind…
I know, you want the snake bite story. But first, I want you to ask yourself… When was the last time you spent $5,000 without thinking about it? Or $2,000? Or heck, even $50?
Now think about your ideal customer. They’re browsing. They’re looking for a good deal, sure. But more than that?
They’re looking for value.
They signed up for your email. Now it’s time to think about the first date. Now it’s time to get to know each other.
So celebrate that moment that made you who you are.
What was day one of the business like? Where did the idea first come from? What was the pain that inspired you to move heaven and earth to launch your own thing?
(Or, if this is the case for you, how in the world did a snake bite help you open a juice bar?)
For travel agencies, why do you organize trips? What was your first time traveling like? Why do you want to help people travel? Why is it important to sell products that give back to the community?
And most importantly…
Where do people like the customer reading this email come in?
Because when you can tie your creation story to pain or problems the customer has, you’ll begin to take shape as not just a potential solution to their problem, but the solution.
Length: Juicy and revealing [~500 words].
To Do: Paint your portrait (that your customer can see themselves in).
Best Practices: Make it personal. Talk feelings.
P.S. I know there are a lot of people offering to do this… but when you hear about this service I offer, I hope you’ll choose us.
Email #3: Uniquely You
Subject: How we accidentally gave away a trip for free (and why we’ll do it again)
Let’s say you have a travel agency. You know there’s competition. That competition can be other agencies… but it’s also just the very nature of travel itself. For one, people can just go it alone. Or they can book a cruise. Or book through Airbnb and do one of a thousand different daily experiences.
So what makes you different? Why should someone go with you? Maybe it’s how you deal with customer service, like how a few years ago a clerical mistake resulted in a free booking for a family of four, and yet, you honored it… and turned it into a yearly contest for the company.
Do you have access that no one else has? Were you the first to do something? Does an award say you are the best?
Or how about the way you hire.. What sets your team apart? Something about how you work together, how you research trips, how you give back to the community.
You’ve heard it before in your business classes, but it still applies. What’s your Unique Selling Proposition?
(Yes, you’re unique. Like, everyone!)
Articulating that isn’t always the easiest, but once you can, it’s the hook you’ll keep coming back to.
Length: Just long enough to talk the talk and walk the walk [~300 words].
To Do: Identify the one thing that you do better than anyone else, and brag about it.
Best Practices: Include some links to offerings, or testimonials (more on this in Email #5)
P.S. We’ve all made mistakes, but I’ve never seen someone own up to one like what I’ll share with you next.
Email #4: Problems & Solutions
Subject: We have a confession to make…
Yes, though you’re writing from an official email account, not everything is sunshine and roses.
It’s okay to be human. It’s okay to admit things aren’t perfect. And if you have a problem, there are ways to share about it that just might endear you to your customers even more.
Because when you can frame that problem, then you can address heads-on what people’s concerns are and you can win their confidence.
In times like COVID-19, could you explain how your team makes travel easier?
Could you share a story about a customer’s last-minute cancellation, and how you worked with them to reschedule?
Or insurance you recommend to all travelers?
Like Email #3, this is a chance to turn a story about a problem into a story about your team, your customer service, your flexible deposits, re-booking, or gift certificates.
When you can raise a problem in their mind, then solve it for them, you will position yourself as the go-to person or business the next time that problem comes up.
Length: Paint a picture of the pain point, then talk [~250-350 words].
To Do: Bring up a problem, and show how you solve it.
Best Practices: Have pages on your website you can link to that address these points with policies.
PS. When they said the “best time they’d ever had” I couldn’t believe who they were talking about.
Email #5: Let Others Talk About You
Subject: “Everyone that works there is both beautiful AND handsome!”
A simple and effective way to help others understand what it is you do, and how well you do it… is to not say anything at all.
Well, not nothing. A blank email won’t get you very far.
Instead, let others do the talking. Share one powerful testimonial (if you get it in the video, you get bonus points), and let the quote work its magic.
“Somehow they made traveling even more fun! I’ve planned trips on my own. I’ve done the whole cruise thing. But working with the TBD Travel Agency changed everything. Plus, everyone that works there is both beautiful AND handsome. They’re the whole package.”
If you’re relying on TripAdvisor, or, any online review platform, you’re relying on being compared to the competition. Your customer is going to look up your competition anyway.
But with these emails, they’re listening to you. So let them know why they should take action.
Then, explain a bit about what that customer’s situation was (read: problem), or what they were looking for. You can even share the link to the product or offer they ended up choosing.
Again, you have an opportunity to connect with an audience that’s in their moment of deciding.
Deciding between traveling or not traveling.
Deciding between another company and your company.
Deciding between offerings from your company.
Each email is a chance to connect just a bit more and bring them one step closer to their final decision.
Length: Just the quote and a brief story [~150 words of your own].
To Do: Let a customer’s testimonial solve another pain point.
Best Practices: Include a link to a specific product.
PS. I said before that these emails are like the first date. But what happens after the wedding?
Email #6: The Before & After
Subject: Can you believe it’s already our 1-year anniversary?!
In a relationship, everyone talks about the wedding day, and while it’s true that it is an exciting part of the relationship… The rewarding part is what comes after.
The same could be said for your customers. While yes, their trip, their experience, their time with you, those are the highlights they’re going to share. That’s the exciting part.
But you can extend that to make traveling with you even more rewarding. And in sharing that Before and After story with your new customers, you end up creating an emotionally compelling story.
For anyone looking to book a trip, the time before is often stressful, anxiety-ridden, and budget obsessed…
Whereas after the trip, they feel relaxed, they’ve cherished memories, and maybe they got even more than they expected for their money.
When you played a major part in bringing them from Before to After, you can rightfully take some of the credit.
In addition to checking in with that customer and sharing their feedback, this is an email where you can share more about what you do differently.
Maybe you have some magical follow-up offer, a photo album of their trip, or a video message from one of their guides?
When you can share a piece about yourself about how what you do makes your customers feel, you get a chance to connect even deeper.
Length: Short-to-medium [~300 words].
To Do: Share a story.
Best Practices: Ask an open-ended question.
P.S. Wondering when it’s time to sell something? The next email is when you get to sell something.
Email #7: Sell Something
Subject: Will you do me a favor?
It’s time to do some selling. You’ve built up to this point for six emails (if you’re stealing this template, at least!), and you’re entitled to a little release.
So, it’s time to share a product you’re proud of. A new product you’re excited about. An old favorite you’ve dusted off. Something you can write about with emotion.
Here you get to show off the reasons you wrote about earlier for having this company in the first place. And now, you just want to share that excitement with someone who is now a part of your brand’s family.
Because after this long, after a few weeks of emails and stories, you’ve shared the emotions of running a business, the hopes that travelers have, and the dreams we all hold onto.
So it’s okay to share some of yours, too.
Then include a beautiful picture, a link to the product, and information on its availability.
Length: Short [~150 words]..
To Do: Sell something.
Best Practices: Focus on one product, and what it means to the company.
P.S. I couldn’t help myself. I included a surprise.
Email #8: Wait, There’s More?
Subject: You have to watch this
Okay, I just wanted to give you one more idea. Mix up the media, and embed a video in your email. Do you have a recap of a trip? A video interview of your founder speaking? Or even better… a customer’s footage following your itinerary?
Just drop it in an email with a quick note, the video, and bam.
That’s what travel is about, after all.
It’s a way of suggesting that, with you, they’ll be able to capture moments all their own.
To Do: Include something besides writing.
Best Practices: Focus on a video that captures another side of your company.
P.S. Wondering where to go from here?
Email #9… and Beyond
Subject: Get ready to write
These were the automatic emails. You’ve got them set up now.
But your job is to create a community of fans.
Fans who will come back and travel with you again.
Fans who will recommend you to other friends and family members.
Fans who will support your business and grow your dreams.
So, set up a habit to email regularly. Once a quarter, twice a month, three times a week – we can discuss the rhythm that’s right for you. You might be nervous, but as long as you’re true and honest and engaging, people will read it.
Remember, people plan trips at different intervals. Spur of the moment. Three months ahead of their spring break. A year out for their next big family adventure.
If they’re visiting your site, they were thinking about booking.
And even if they don’t book with you this time, they’ll remember how helpful you’ve been along the way.
So it’s up to you to find a way to stay in their minds over a few weeks… if you can tell them stories that keep their interest over a few months… or if you can connect with them regularly throughout the year…
Then the next time they’re booking, I bet they come back to you.
Well, that could be pretty interesting for your business, don’t you think?
To Do: Write.
Best Practices: Commit to a regular interval. Don’t be afraid of email.
So good luck with your email series. If you want it looked over or you need help writing and designing one of your own, send me a message: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to get you started.
See you out there,
How long should this email series take to send out?
For seven emails you could send it out over two-to-three weeks. That can be adjusted, but it’s enough to stay present in their minds while also crafting your story.
Do I have to manually send these emails?
This email series is designed to be set up to release automatically once someone signs onto your list. That way it saves you some of the heavy lifting up front. All you need to do from this point would be to respond to questions.
Though you should consider a plan for regular, current emails as well, but that’s a different PDF.
How do I send emails automatically?
Services like MailChimp, Drip, and Aweber among others allow you to automate your emails. The long and short of it: You’ll type them up and set up a flow that customers activate. There’s much more – drop me a line and I can send you a bunch of resources!
I have social media, and thousands of followers. Why do I also need email?
Social media is great. Do it. It’s good to have a presence. It’s good to give a general idea of what you’re doing, to capture the vibe of your company, and to have fun.
But if people aren’t regularly interacting with your brand, you won’t appear on their feed. So in that sense, your number of followers doesn’t mean a whole lot. With email, you have the chance to talk directly to one person. When your email arrives in their inbox, it arrives for them to read.
Then when it keeps arriving each week, they get to know you. They trust you. And they’ll make a better decision.
People will think I’m bothering them.
If you’re truly bothering them, then they’ll unsubscribe. But if you follow the steps above, and you share honestly (with just a teensy bit of selling along the way), the customers who you want will stay on the list.
When will this payoff?
You’ve got to plant seeds! You’ve done the work getting people to your site, don’t just let them slip away.
Need help with the payoff? I’d be happy to help.