Hotel Digital Marketing Blog

Emailing Past Guests to Encourage Repeat Visits

Are You Emailing Past Guests & Actively Encouraging Repeat Visits?

Despite being one of the oldest digital marketing tactics (and often labeled as “dead”), email continues to be one of the best ways to maintain a personal connection with past guests and encourage repeat visits.

According to USA Today / cheapflighs.com: 85% of those surveyed are inclined to vacation somewhere they’ve already visited. Hotels should do anything they can to capitalize on repeat visits to their area.

Repeat guests are often the most cost effective way keep occupancy rates up and increase direct bookings. What’s the best way to communicate with past guests and encourage them to return to your hotel? EMAIL.

Why Many Hotels Don’t Email Past Guests

I’ve talked with many owners and general managers about emailing past guests and the first response is usually one of the following:

  • Email doesn’t work. I get a bunch of spam emails and I don’t read any of them.
  • I don’t know what I would even email past guests about.
  • I don’t think our system allows us to send marketing emails.

Whatever the reason, many hotels don’t even consider this immensely personal tactic to connect directly with people that have already stayed at their property in the past.

Why Email Past Guests?

First off, emails DO work for hotels. Most email campaigns to past guests get a 30-40% open rate. That is way higher than other industries that are lucky to get a 20% open rate.

Depending on the offer or “click incentive”, most hotel emails generate a click-through rate of 15-25%.

Based on those numbers, here is a sample calculation:

Email List: 5,000
Opens: 1,750 (35%)
Clicks: 350 (20% of the opens)

That’s 350 visits to your website from people that have stayed at your hotel in the past.

Who To Email & When?

You may be surprised at how many email addresses you have in your PMS – you could be sitting on an amazing, untapped opportunity.

In many cases, a hotel that decides to email past guests will pull a list from their PMS that spans that past few years. For most hotels, this list can be huge. They will draft an email with an offer or update and blast it to the entire list. With a decent open and click-through rate, this approach might be deemed a success. But what now? You just emailed the entire list with a broad offer or update and you don’t want to continually spam your past guests.

A more sustainable and strategic approach:

  • Segment your list and send regular emails to smaller groups (example segments: home address, season last stayed, last stayed during holiday/event, length of stay, etc.)
  • Create an email marketing plan/schedule that allows your entire list to receive at least one email every 2 months (you can send several emails during this time to reach the full list). Try to send the most relevant info to each segment.
  • Test different messaging and offers. Tweaking the subject line can help increase open rates. Updating the content/offer and link text can increase click-through rates.
  • If possible, use tracking methods to measure bookings and revenue.
  • Measure the results and continually improve the entire process. This is not a “set and forget” approach to marketing.

The Bottom Line

With very little investment, you can use emails to increase repeat visits and develop a personal connection to past guests. The more you put into planning, analyzing, and improving, the more successful your email marketing campaigns will be.

Have questions or need hotel email marketing ideas?
Schedule a quick 15 minute meeting, I’d be happy to chat.


Posted by: Adam Kline
(888) 988-5485 ext 305
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