You may have heard us say this before, but it bears repeating. Email marketing is alive and well, but only if done with care. This means sending targeted, customized communications that tell a story your prospects want to hear.
Newsletters or other communication broadcasts can be ok at times, but they won’t provide the conversions, i.e. increased sales, that you’re looking for.
The best way to ramp sales is to market like an elite eCommerce player, using automated “set and forget” campaigns. For your customers – those that have already booked – there are two main data points with which you can trigger these campaigns: The time the booking was created, and the time the experience itself takes place – the tour date, rental date, museum visit date, etc.
Triggering your campaigns based on the date of the booking is great, and head and shoulders above what most experience providers are already doing. But to really take your campaigns to the next level consider making use of the date and time the event actually takes place.
This is where the magic happens.
This is what your customers are looking forward to.
Every day leading up to the experience is like a roller coaster clicking it’s way to the top of that first drop. Marketing during this ascent is “in the moment” marketing at its best.
Here are five reasons to consider triggering your email marketing campaigns on the date of the experience.
1 – Cross-Sell/Upsell
This may be one of the most compelling reasons to trigger campaigns on tour/event date. Remember our roller coaster? The journey up the first hill is what we call the “sweet spot”. It’s the best time to try to cross-sell on other tours, products or affiliate experiences that you offer, or up-sell on things like private tours or memberships.
Let me give you an example.
Suppose a customer decides to visit your destination and book an off-road ATV tour. If you’re just triggering on book date you have no way of knowing if the experience will happen a day, a month, or a year after booking.
Sure, you can send them a cross-sell campaign right away, but what if they booked three months in advance? They may not be ready to book another experience – they haven’t planned their whole vacation just yet. As they get closer to their arrival date, they may want ways to fill that extra time.
Note that advanced systems will allow you to trigger campaigns a set time period before the event, say, some number of months or days beforehand – in the moment. Make sure your email system can do this before you invest.
But, perhaps they don’t book another experience just yet. They may not know you well enough to trust you with anything more. But now that they’ve had so much fun with you, they want more. This is when you let them know that there are more hills coming up on this coaster. Send a cross-sell campaign right after the ATV experience offering a kayak tour, maybe with 10% off because they’re a repeat customer. Even a small conversion percentage on this type of campaign is a huge win – especially for locals.
2 – Request Review
Positive reviews of your experiences are crucial to success in this industry. Whether this be on Google, social media, or with an OTA, the best time to ask for the review is “In the Moment”, when the experience is still fresh in the customer’s mind.
Not only that, but by using email marketing you can send them an actual link, making it as easy as possible for them to provide that crucial review.
If you’re only looking at booking date, you have no way of triggering a campaign when the experience is ended. It could be days, months or a year or more after the booking takes place.
And speaking of reviews, let’s be sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your efforts. Google reviews are one of the best ways to get your brand at the top of page one on Google, and bypass those increasingly intrusive, white-labeling mega corporations that seek to steal your brand.
And yes, we know that many booking systems offer auto review requests. But using an email tool will give you more creative control over the email’s presentation. It also allows you to “resend” to those who don’t click the review-request link. Finally, it allows you to send requests to those who attended the experience but were not the booker. Bonus reviews!
3 – Social Media Check-In
Social media is an incredible vehicle for brand awareness. The average social media check-in is seen by 200 friends! Let’s talk about what that means.
Your guest is telling 200-600 of their friends that they recommend your business. That is the most powerful advertising you could ask for. It’s word-of-mouth…and it’s FREE.
Obviously you can’t ask for a social media check-in at the time of booking. You have to ask right before the tour takes place, which means using the start date/time.
4 – Memberships
This one’s specific to attractions or museums, or other experiences that compel people to visit again and again with memberships or loyalty programs.
Memberships always have a start date and end date, and you’ll certainly want to re-sell that membership as the end date gets closer. This is where end date, or more specifically months or days BEFORE the end date comes in very handy.
Auto create “set & forget” campaigns that remind people 3 months in advance of their membership end date. Offer discounts and an “extra month” for renewing at least 30 days prior to expiration.
Finally, be sure to only send these campaigns to people who have not already renewed. A simple “tag” on their profile in your email application is not enough to make that distinction.
5 – Marketing to Locals
Marketing to locals should be specialized. Most experiences have some percentage of local attendees. Even if this percentage is only five or ten percent of the total, it still makes sense to maximize this persona.
This is especially true in a destination like a major city, where family or friends of the local tend to pop in once in a while expecting to be entertained.
First, you’ll need to identify and tag them as a local. Then, some time after the experience takes place (not some time after the booking takes place), remind them of the incredible experience they had. They’re a local after all – they’ll probably be around for a while.
As a side note, if newsletters are to work at all, it will be with your locals.
There are a few email marketing tools out there that will equip you to trigger campaigns based on the experience date, but only with the right integration with your booking system.
Heard of Zapier, the system integration service that offers inexpensive integration between a variety of platforms?
We have yet to see a Zapier trigger based on the experience start and end date, and a trigger set for some period of time before the experience date is out of the question. Zapier just can’t do it.
eCommerce email marketing systems are designed primarily for eCommerce products. They’re a great fit for experience providers, but do not provide this type of functionality “out of the box” because experience providers are different than websites selling tangible products.
Imagine Amazon trying to cross-sell another product three months before your product arrives? That would make no sense.
That’s why we created TourAdvantage, a turnkey email marketing solution that puts the power of advanced eCommerce email marketing in the hands of small to mid-sized experience providers.
It offers all the power of ecommerce email marketing, with all the nuances that experience providers require.
TourAdvantage has three components.
- Real-time email and e-commerce integration with FareHarbor to give you all of the information you need to craft targeted, “in the moment” messages
- 40+ easy to follow video tutorials tailored to the tour operator experience, and already prioritized – so you can start small and go at your own pace. Heck – create a single new campaign monthly if you’d like!
- 30+ accelerator workflows and email templates. We give you a head start on those crucial “set and forget” campaigns so you’ll be up and running in a matter of hours, even as a marketing team of one!
Our TourAdvantage premium package allows you to market to your customers based on experience start or end date, 90, 60, 30, 3, 2 or 1 days before the experience, or any number of hours, minutes or days after the experience.
Sign up for a one-on-one TourAdvantage demo here.
Leaving the corporate world behind (a bizarre domain where a 25 year resident can still feel like a foreigner) Daniel set his sites on full-time travel writing and digital marketing. His plans include building an amazing business or three, maximizing time with his partner for life Lesli and four spectacular kiddos, and writing and delivering dad jokes.