Hotel Marketing: Email Marketing Segmentation Explained

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Segmentation is one of the most important elements of your hotel email marketing.

However, despite its importance, it is often neglected and it may well be one of the reasons why your email strategy is not working for you.

What is segmentation in email marketing?

Segmentation put simply, is a process that lets you personalise your email marketing, so you are sending the right messages to the right people at the right time.

Nobody likes to receive emails where there’s nothing in for them. Just think of all those times when you’ve clicked the unsubscribe button because an email clearly wasn’t aimed at you.

Grouping your subscribers by characteristics into segments gives you the tools to easily personalise emails, and send focussed information that your audience will find relevant and engaging.

Creating segments for optimal results

Your subscribers are potential guests, but at the same time, they are people with different needs, preferences and behaviour. In person, you wouldn’t say the same thing to all of them – and the same applies to emails you send them. That doesn’t mean you have to write a completely unique email to each subscriber though.

I recently read that email marketing segmentation is the art of thinking in groups – and I think that’s a nice way to frame it.

If you can define some key characteristics, you will be able to strategically split subscribers into groups. Then you can start to get better results from your hotel email marketing campaigns. 

Here are some stats supporting that:

Email marketing segmentation strategies

Segmentation strategy will usually depend on the overall email marketing strategy and how personalised your email campaigns will be. For higher personalisation, you will need a higher number of segments – and vice versa.

Of course, your specific segmentation strategy will depend on your overall strategy and business goals. I can help by listing some of the most common and most used segmentation strategies in the hospitality industry, which you can use as guidance.

Demographics

Let’s start with a very basic segmentation strategy, where you create segments based on demographic data. 

You will segment your audience based on, for example, their age, gender, or any other demographic factors that might be important for your hotel.

If you are doing this kind of segmentation, it’s really important to filter out irrelevant demographic factors and focus in on only those that will have an impact on your email marketing.

Email Engagement

Here, you will segment your existing audience based on their interaction with your email campaigns.

So for example, you can have two segments – active and inactive subscribers, where inactive people would be those who have not opened any of your emails in the last couple of months, for example.

This will enable you to create campaigns aimed at inactive subscribers only, as a way to re-engage them.

Similarly, you can send specialised promotional campaigns to active subscribers, because you know that they are showing interest in your hotel and are likely considering booking their stay there.

Geographic area

If you are a hotel that is mostly focused on attracting local travellers, by specialising in, for example, staycations, weekend packages, and similar, then this segmentation strategy is quite valuable.

When you have a segment of people who are based in the same place, or at least the same country, as your hotel, you can create special campaigns to promote those offers that are aimed at local travellers only.

Past bookings

How can you make your guests book your hotel again?

Creating a segment based on past bookings of course!

You can set a specific timeframe, for example, six months after they have stayed at your hotel, and send contacts that are in this segment a special offer or a discount for their next stay. Or if you have hotels in other destinations, you can email them an offer for one of your other hotels.

There are many effective ways you can encourage your past guests to choose you again. But it all starts by creating this segment in the first place.

Abandoned bookings

If your hotel accepts direct bookings – so people can book their stay directly through your hotel website – then you need to have this segmentation strategy in place. Otherwise, you are missing out on bookings that could have been saved.

Let’s say, for example, someone went on to your website, filled in all the dates and went through at least half of the process of booking the room and then abandoned it. They had the intention to book your hotel, but something stopped them.

It could be price, room availability, or something else. But this doesn’t have to mean a lost booking yet. 

If you use this strategy, your email marketing software will automatically add them to the abandoned bookings segment. All you need to do then is to send a follow-up email – which again is done automatically by your software – and remind them they can still book the room, send them a special offer, a room upgrade, or something else.

Again, there are many options for how you can save the abandoned booking, and which ones are suitable for your hotel depends on your overall strategy.

I hope that has given you some ideas about the amazing potential that you can unlock when using email segmentation. This is an often underused tactic, which can lead to fantastic results, so give it a try.

80 DAYS Benchmark
80 DAYS Benchmark
Maja Nenadov is a marketing consultant, illustrator and founder of Destination Marketing - a creative agency for the travel and hospitality industry. With over ten years of experience in the industries, she is passionate about helping travel and hospitality businesses stand out from the crowd, attract more guests and generate more bookings. She is also a full-time traveller, constantly on the road for the past four years, an animal rights advocate and a promoter of sustainable, eco-friendly travelling.