Whether email marketing is part of your tour company’s strategy or not, you should read and understand this important message.

On February 1st of 2024 Google and Yahoo, two or the world’s leading email clients, are putting in place a policy that will most definitely impact email deliverability.  Have you ever had email find its way into your spam folder that just should not be there?  This is what I’m talking about.  Ignoring these rules will up the odds significantly that emails you’re sending from your tour operator business, marketing and transactional, will wind up in your customer’s and prospect’s spam folder.

Here’s what you need to know.

The Prelude

You should be using a custom sending domain.  What’s this mean?  If I own Daniel’s Dirt Bike Rentals, I want to make sure I’m able to send emails from [email protected], and not [email protected].  This is just good marketing practice period whether you’re sending out bulk emails or not, if for nothing else for branding purposes.  You can set up your own domain email account in many ways.  GoDaddy, CloudFlare, or whoever manages your domain name.  BigScoots, WPEngine or whoever hosts your website.  Or even the high and mighty Google themselves with Google Workspace.  

When it comes to email marketing, your EMS (Email Marketing System) should already require that at least the “from address” be your own domain.  Some do not, and that’s usually with EMS’s like MailChimp that cater to a wide variety of very small clients. 

The Policies

Google’s and Yahoo’s new guidelines state that on February 1st, 2024 they’re going to be looking for three specific security policies tied to your domain name.  Again, whether you’re doing email marketing or not, you’ll want to put these policies in place.  The policies don’t exist for deliverability, but rather for security.  They mainly prevent bad actors from “spoofing” your domain, i.e., sending out emails pretending they are you.  And pretending flawlessly I might add.  These creeps can do all sorts of awful things through spoofing, including gaining access to your bank accounts and other risky business.

The policies are as follows:

1) SPF (Sender Policy Framework)  – This is the lowest level of security, and involves putting a generic TXT record in your domain’s DNS settings.  Contact your email provider to get this record.

2) DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) – This is a much higher level of security.  Think of it like SSL for email.  It’s a long security key called SSH (Secure Socket Shell) that you again get from your email provider and add to your DNS settings as a TXT record.  The difference is that you then authenticate this change with your email provider, locking in the tightest form of security out there.  It’s difficult to provide more detailed information here because every email provider is different, so contact them for more info.

3) DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication) – This is yet another DNS TXT record that you can get from your email provider. Here you identify an email address (any email address you own) which your provider will use to send log messages.  This will show when a bad guy is attempting to spoof you, or when your SPF or DKIM is failing.  It’s basically a safety measure.  Only implement DMARC when your SPF and DKIM are already in place

Phew.  That was a lot to swallow but really doesn’t take too much time to set up.  Do all three whether you’re using email marketing or not.

Email Marketing

Here’s the rub.  In the past most EMS’ allowed you to send out bulk emails using their own domain.  For example, if using Drip, you were able to send emails from Drip’s own trusted domain.  The “from” email address would still show as your own domain, but the emails are actually coming from theirs.  So if Drip is has already implemented SPF, DKIM and DMARC, then what’s the issue?

There’s some debate around this because Google and Yahoo haven’t been completely transparent on the issue, but the feeling is that they’ll also be checking to see whether the “from” address matches the sending domain. If it doesn’t, it increased the likelihood that these emails will go to spam.  

This is why you’ll want to implement a custom sending domain with your EMS.  Check with your EMS for more info, but with Drip and Mailchimp it requires (you guessed it) yet another TXT record in your DNS settings, followed by a validation step.  After completing this task your “from” email address will match the sending domain.

The Bottom Line

You can’t go wrong by implementing these steps by February 1st.  It’s good practice.

1) Switch to domain email sending through GoDaddy, CloudFlare, Google Workspace, or something else

2) Implement the 3 security policies, SPF, DKIM and DMARC

3) If you’re using an EMS, start using a custom sending domain instead of the EMS domain.  Some EMS’, like Drip are requiring this by February 1st

Take It To the Next Level

Are you a FareHarbor experience provider?  We’re TourAdvantage, FareHarbor’s only dedicated email marketing platform partner.

At TourAdvantage we’ll integrate your FareHarbor customers to include all relevant booking info.  If you sign up for Wherewolf or SmartWaiver, we’ll integrate all of that as well at no additional cost.  AND we’ll help you market to those attendees just like you do with the booker.  We can even do this with your OTA bookings. 

Not only that, but we provide you with all of the on-line video lessons to help you make it happen.

If you want our help, start with our demo videos here. Still have questions? Schedule a demo with us today.