Sending Transactional Emails Vs Marketing Emails: What’s the Difference for Tour Operators?


October 7, 2021

5 min read
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Guest communication plays a crucial role in the tour, activity and transport industry to ensure a memorable guest experience and repeat business. 

We’re taking the time to tackle the subject and empower our tourism community to stay connected with their audience.

If you’ve missed out on our previous posts on guest communications, get caught up with Five Pre & Post Tour Emails Operators Should Be Sending, which covers using email as a channel to keep in touch with guests. The second part of the series, Winning More Guests with Email Marketing, dives into using email marketing to attract and retain customers.

Emails have grown to become a go-to channel for communicating with and engaging guests. 

Before blasting out emails to your guests, it’s well worth familiarizing yourself with the two main types of emails—transactional emails and marketing emails and the specific use cases each serves.

This conversation around email communications also touches on the issue of consent especially, with the anti-spam legislation that varies by geographic region. Businesses may have heard of the CANSPAM act in the US, and companies in Canada might be aware of CASL

A better understanding of transactional and marketing emails will help you stay in touch with your potential and travelled guests in a compliant manner.

What are Transactional Emails?

Any email that originates as a follow-up to a transaction is a transactional email. The one-to-one email to a customer confirms the transaction, aka booking, has taken place and shares only relevant information regarding the booking.

Transactional emails are sent to a specific individual and convey important information regarding the booking guests made. It means any pre-and post-tour email correspondence with your guests about their booking falls into the transactional category. These types of emails are strictly non-promotional.

Automated emails from most booking software are, by design, transactional. Your guest cannot unsubscribe from transactional emails.

Examples of Transactional Emails in an Online Booking System

An example of transactional emails in an online booking system for tour operators
Here is an example of a booking confirmation email.
  • Booking confirmation email: To confirm the booking details with the guest
  • Tour notification email: To share further information about the tour 
  • Invoice notification: To allow them to pay the remaining balance for their booking 
  • Disruption notification: To inform any delay or disruptions with the tours
  • Feedback request email: To request reviews from guests

If transport and tour operators like to learn more about transactional emails, head over to our recent blog post about five pre & post tour emails operators should be sending.

How Do Tour Operators Send Transactional Emails?

The good news about transactional emails is that they can be automated from your booking system. Your booking management software can address the challenge of connecting with your guests both pre and post-tour by automating email communications.

Zaui allows its customers to have automated email communications, with customizability options that fit with your brand’s look and feel. Users can draft the emails, set the time, date and frequency for these emails to go out and forget about the hassle around setting up an email each time.

What are Marketing Emails?

Marketing emails are promotional in nature, more often focused on welcoming and nurturing subscribed guests. They offer them promotional and educational content to continue building this relationship. Marketing emails can often be used to inform your audience of the tours and activities and offers you’re running to get users to re-engage and book.

Unlike transactional emails, marketing emails can be sent to your prospective customers and previous guests, with the catch that your audience must have agreed and opted in to receive your marketing emails during the booking process. Do not include them in your mailing list without their permission.

If existing customers have given the green light to continue hearing from you beyond the transaction signal, marketing emails with engaging, informative and promotional content can be used to develop a long-lasting bond and can convert them to repeated guests and brand advocates.

For more email marketing tips and best practices, head over to our recent post on how to win more guests with email marketing.

An example of marketing emails sent by tour operators
A promotional email on 2022 Trending Tours from Intrepid Travel

Examples of Marketing Emails

  • Welcome emails: To welcome the subscriber with a quick introduction to the tours
  • Promotional emails: To promote your latest offering or seasonal campaigns
  • Informative emails: To educate your audience 
  • Newsletters: To inform your latest news, tips, or updates 

How Do Tour Operators Send Marketing Emails?

Tour and activity operators will have to rely on email marketing tools like Mailchimp, ConvertKit, and Constant Content to deliver marketing emails. 

The contact details are collected when the user subscribes to your newsletter while browsing the website or social media pages. By subscribing, they have granted you the permission to send them marketing communications straight to their inbox. 

For those who have opted in, you can move the guest contact details from the booking system to the third-party email marketing platform. Having their permission is vital as auto-enrolling subscribers who have not indicated interest is non-compliant with anti-spam laws.

Marketing emails must have an unsubscribe link, allowing users to opt out of the list, at any time for whatever reason they choose. Keep in mind, the recipient has the power to unsubscribe or flag as spam at any time, therefore underscoring the importance of having a well-planned email marketing strategy and dynamic content to keep them engaged and interested. 

To Summarize

Emails are an effective tool for your marketing strategy, and it’s important for you to know what types of emails you should send, to which groups, and when.

Transactional emails should be used to keep your guests in the loop with all the information they need to know to provide them with a seamless pre and post-tour experience. With automated emails from the booking system, transactional emails will be less of a hassle for tour and activity operators.

With the right targeting and personalized messaging, marketing emails are a strategic lever for helping you connect and engage with your audience in a meaningful way that adds value. If you haven’t yet, start by integrating a third-party email marketing platform into your workflow for sending content to your subscribed guests. Remember to entertain and educate them with relevant emails as the customer has the power to opt out any time.

Zaui customers, if you want to step up your guest communications strategy, don’t hesitate to reach out and connect with our Customer Success team.

If you are looking for an online booking system to elevate the guest experience, we can help you.

Connect with Zaui Experts Today to Schedule a Demo!


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