Tourism Operators: How to Use Email Marketing to Win More Guests (with examples)


September 23, 2021

6 min read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Guest communication plays a crucial role in the tour, activity and transport industry to ensure a memorable guest experience. That’s why we decided to focus on guest communications this month to help our tourism community stay engaged with their customers.

Our previous post, Five Pre & Post Tour Emails Operators Should Be Sending, will help you get up to speed about using email as an effective messaging channel to keep in touch with guests from the moment they book your experiences. In this post, we talk about using email marketing to attract and retain customers.

Ever wondered whether email marketing is worth the hype or not? You are not alone!

A few interesting facts might help you wrap your head around the significance of email marketing and why it’s time for tours and transport operators to tap into this trove of marketing opportunities.

These statistics prove a point. Tour and activity operators can reach out to guests and prospective customers on a massive scale with email marketing, and it is an opportune moment to engage with them on a personal level.

By providing informative content and sharing promotional offers in their inbox, you can develop meaningful relationships with customers and gradually build trust. As the popular saying goes, people do business with people they know, like and trust. Creating a bond with prospective customers makes selling tours, activities, and attractions easier.

But, what kind of content should tour and activity operators share in their emails?

Content Ideas for Tour Operators’ Email Marketing

Even though the goal is to encourage bookings, using email communications only to promote tours and services may annoy your prospective guests.

It’s best to mix your communications with a wide range of promotional, informative and engaging content to capture prospective and returning guests’ attention. 

In the next part of this post, we cover the three key content types and provide some ideas to help you plan your email marketing strategy.

1. Promotional Content

As converting lookers to bookers is the primary focus of email marketing, promotional content should be used to get the word out to potential guests about tours and activities. There are essentially three ways to sneak in promotional content to an email.

🔖 ►Welcome Email

More than 8 out of 10 people will open a welcome email, generating four times as many opens and ten times as many clicks as other email types. Make the best use of it by personalizing the brand, beyond the usual welcome message. Include a quick introduction to the tours and the passionate folks behind them, encouraging the new subscriber to know you better.

What to include in a welcome email:
  • Thank you note for subscription     
  • Highlight of tours
  • Introduction to guides
  • Share helpful resources
  • Social media links

Remember, you shouldn’t cram the welcome email with all the information. It should be more visual storytelling with relevant links to your website for each piece of information. 

Here’s a great example of a welcome email from Duvine Bike Tours with the right dose of information titled ‘Duvine Difference,’ sharing a blurb and link to their highlights and prompting the new subscribers to learn more about their tours and guides.

Sample welcome email for tour and transport operators


🎁► Seasonal Promotions and New Offers

Reel in your prospective customers and old guests with information on seasonal or the latest offers. Wrap the offers in a promo code to give them the extra push to book their next tour with you. The more appealing part is that the personalized offers draped in unique codes. And BOGO helps with additional revenue in the low season.

A sample email showing tour operators promoting their tour offers
Lindblad Expeditions promoting its Early Booking Bonus!

Promotional emails on holidays are never out of style. When holidays roll around, tour operators can use emails to promote their gift cards, encouraging the subscribers to think out of the box and give their loved ones an amazing experience as a gift.

🔖► Guest Stories

Showing everyone how your guests enjoyed the tours and activities speaks volumes than any promotional copy. Tell the stories in guests’ words and club it with amazing pictures that capture the excitement and fun. Real-life photos can prompt subscribers to put your tours and activities on their bucket list.

2. Informational Content

The touchpoints with guests shouldn’t be all about promotional stuff. Remember that it’s more about customers than it is about you. Add value to customers’ travel life with informational content, and it will eventually establish tour and activity operators like you as an authority in the industry. Expert tips and advice coming from you can also influence customers’ decision-making process. Informative content can come in any of these formats.

🚗► Travel Inspiration

Travellers seek their inspiration online, especially when holidays are just around the corner. Instead of tiresome online search, getting tailored information to their inbox from a travel expert will be an aha moment for customers. Tour operators can share getaway information on the best places to visit, things to do in a chosen destination, fun facts or ​​never-heard-before stories of destinations.

Sample informational email marketing for tour and transport operators
The Rickshaw Travel Team shows how it is done!

🚌► Tips from Guides

 Loads of travel hacks! When that comes from a veteran tour operator or guide, operators have travellers’ ears and ultimately, their hearts too. Sharing insider knowledge aligned with customers’ travel interests establishes the operator as an authority in the industry. Tour providers can even share relevant write-ups or top recommendations from other sources in the email.

📝► Blogs

Does your website publish top-notch blogs? Email newsletters are a great place to promote them. Valuable and informative blogs take your subscribers back to your website, and it acts as another reminder about the incredible experiences waiting for them.

An example of tour operators promoting their blogs
Rickshaw Travel’s hand-picked tips and stories from the blog shared on email

3. Engaging Content

Besides promotional and informational content, personal stories can give your business a face and create better connections on a personal level with guests. 

🚵‍♂️► Meet the Team

Start introducing your guides and staff in emails, bringing them closer to the guest. Weave in stories that could grab their attention and interest. And don’t forget to sprinkle a bit of behind-the-scenes glimpses too.

A sample mail from tour and activity operators introducing their guides.
Boundless Journeys introduces their North American guides in one of their emails!

🎉► Milestone Emails

Celebrate customers’ birthdays, anniversaries and even the anniversaries of their visit. Send them well wishes and pamper them with a special discount offer or promo code. 

It can also be a re-engagement strategy to win back inactive subscribers. ​​Along with the well wishes, let them know that it’s been a while since they visited the site and give them highlights of recent tours to generate interest.

Do Tour & Activity Operators Need an Email Marketing Platform?

Yes! Choosing the best email marketing platform such as Mailchimp, ConvertKit and Constant Content is also part of the game. In most cases, booking software takes care of transactional emails, which means automated emails sent to guests following a booking. 

For sending marketing communications, operators can collect the contact details from the booking system and newsletter subscribers and move them over to these platforms, of course, with their customers’ permission. Keep in mind that marketing emails should always give customers an option to unsubscribe.

Here is our detailed walkthrough about the difference between transactional emails and marketing emails.

In Summary

Personalized, one-to-one communications with customers via emails continue to play a crucial role in the marketing world, and operators should not miss the opportunity. 

Learn your audience and group them by their interests based on the information captured during website visits and from the booking systems. Knowing your audience’s needs and interests will help you personalize the messages and make them more engaging.

Optimize your emails for mobiles because 59% of millennials primarily use their smartphone to check email. Also, kick it up a notch by making visuals the backbone of all content to grab their attention and make it reader-friendly.

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.

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