Why Email is the Key to Winning the Online Travel Wars
Jeff Kupietzky, CEO, PowerInbox
With a stable economy, low unemployment and a strong desire among young people to experience new cultures and adventures, the hospitality industry is riding a wave of momentum.
At the same time, travelers have substantially more options when it comes to researching and booking travel online. That means the pressure is on for hospitality providers and travel aggregators to find new and engaging ways to grab prospective guests’ attention.
Many are finding that revisiting an old standby—email—can be a powerful weapon in winning the online travel wars. Once considered “dead” and “old school” as social channels pushed into the limelight, email has reemerged, giving both travel sites and travel advertisers an engaging, one-to-one digital channel to reach audiences with travel deals.
Travel sites and hospitality operators can partner with brand sponsors to drop native ads into the email campaigns they’re already sending, creating an entirely new revenue stream that can cover the cost of sending the campaigns, and then some. And, for advertisers, placing paid spots in travel-oriented emails can substantially raise brand awareness and engagement, especially with the right targeting.
Exactly what makes email a travel industry triumph?
It’s consumers’ preferred channel of choice. In fact, with nearly 7 billion email accounts and growing, email is the preferred channel for commercial communication with over 80% of consumers saying email is their preferred channel of brand communication, with Facebook a distant second, preferred by just 38%.
It’s trusted. Trust is an extremely valuable commodity for travel. Consumers spend a lot of time and money planning a getaway, poring over online booking and reviews, and trust is a major factor in purchase decisions for more than two-thirds of adults. In fact, trust in the sender is the No. 1 reason people open and read emails. And, two-thirds of email users say they’re more likely to click on ads in an email that comes from a publisher they trust, so advertisers can rely on that conveyed trust to drive engagement. Using email to connect with subscribers allows companies to capitalize on consumers’ inherent trust of the channel to drive engagement and monetization.
It’s easy to manage for travel sites. For travel sites, adding partner advertisements into your email newsletters can be as simple as dropping a short HTML snippet into your existing templates. The email monetization provider does the rest, filling the space with targeted, relevant content from advertisers based on your subscribers’ known interests, behavior and demographics. Some platforms even integrate with Google Ad Manager, allowing travel sites to consolidate and manage their entire email and web programs all in the same interface. For those without direct-sale capability, or with limited direct-sold inventory, the most advanced platforms also offer their own native ad network, which can automatically fill vacant spots with ads, so that no email goes unmonetized.
It’s easy and effective for advertisers. For travel advertisers, all it takes is providing your creative to the travel aggregator or email publisher, and they do the rest. Or, you can partner with an email monetization platform that offers its own ad network. By adding creative to the ad network, brand ads can reach a much larger and more diverse audience—and it’s much easier to manage—than working with individual email publishers. Plus, with the right platform, advertisers get accurate, transparent CPC-style metrics and billing for a much more effective ROI than a list-based sponsored send.
It’s dynamic. More advanced platforms can even personalize email ads to each individual user, and dynamically change the ads based on geographic location, weather, time of open, etc. For example, an airline could sell sponsorship of all reservation confirmation emails to a specific hotel partner. But for more precise targeting, they can partner with an email monetization provider to place targeted inventory, such as ads for Disney Resorts for subscribers landing in Orlando, for example, or for the National Zoo for flights into Washington, D.C.
Using email to connect with subscribers and monetize email campaigns is now more effective and easier than ever. With so much competition for consumers’ attention from so many channels, email is the easiest to target, personalize and control the distribution. This simplicity makes it ideal for travel aggregators and advertisers who need proven solutions with demonstrable ROI.