Why building your email list is the best thing you can do for your business right now
In various conversations and chats with small hotel, lodge, b&b and hostel owners over the last few weeks, the topic of how to confidently reach out to local and national customers (even if you are closed) has come up again and again.
Having adjusted my marketing to encourage more national tourists to visit my backpackers hostel in Chile after the 8.8 earthquake halted international arrivals, I have been asked how I did it and if I can offer any advice.
Back in 2010 after the quake, I couldn’t have told you in the correct jargon what I was actually doing, but I understand now that I unwittingly but successfully created a domestic marketing funnel directed at my local and national market.
It all started with me being transparent and kind to the lovely Chilean people who had stayed at my place over the years prior to 2010.
I dusted off a pile of old check-in forms, went through them all, and put their emails into an Excel document.
Then I went on to write a few very real and human emails that let people know what was going on and how we were doing. The knock-on effect was astounding. My only intention was to connect and let people know we were safe and that the hostel was still standing and open for business.
People started to respond, asking questions, offering support, and remembering the great times they had experienced during their stays.
I had inadvertently re-activated their desire to return so they could experience that fun atmosphere again.
A few reservations came in from those people, so I started sending out more mails. Mails that I know now are actually called “nurturing” mails. I sent info about the area, how we helped to rebuild broken bridges and roads, and who we sent food parcels to in the worst hit areas.
Then, as the situation improved, I wrote about the new activities available in the area, or a new angle on the old favourites. I sent out offers for long weekends and national holidays.
Suddenly I noticed that more Chileans were arriving because someone who had received one of my mails had mentioned that my hostel was THE place to stay in town.
At the time I just rolled with it and didn’t recognise that I was creating a targeted marketing strategy. Sending those emails felt like I was simply “talking”, as I would if the person were already standing in reception.
As a result of this experience, over the years I have been asked for advice and support about how to overcome crises like these, along with seasonal fluctuations, and dips in occupancy.
In fact, on March 3rd, 2015, the active volcano erupted in the town, and naturally all reservations were cancelled and international travel took some time to resume.
By then I was working full time in tourism consultancy and was about to start my own family and had just sold my hostel to new owners. I applied the experience I had after the quake to the small hotels and lodges I was working with in the region, and the same pattern of results ensued.
So, dusting off an old pile of check-in forms is a great place to start, but there is a lot more to it. Today we have so many online tools that can help us with this work. No need to send mails out one at a time anymore for example!
Another great action to take is to check out my Top 5 Consumer Travel Trends video that also presents 5 actions steps to get you closer to more effortless room night sales to the kind of people you want to host at your property. Click the image below to gain access:
The challenges you are facing may seem insurmountable, but within the frustration there is opportunity. A chance to build lasting relationships with local and national guests that can bring in revenue all year round as well as reducing dependence on online travel agencies. We all want to pay less commission in the long run, right?
By entering just your name and email here, the free download will be sent straight to your inbox.
Meanwhile, give my Facebook page a like, and do come along and join the Building Tourism Resilience Facebook group to share your successes or reach out for advice from the awesome community. You have got this!
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