Email is a fantastic way of engaging customers.

Last week we signed up to the mailing list on as many travel websites we could in order to analyse the customer experience of the travel sector. This article is our analysis of the signing up experience, the emails we got back, and whether or not we felt inclined to book a holiday.

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In the travel industry it is safe to say that there are some fantastic sign up forms. The form pictured above was pointed out by one of our developers as "a breath of fresh air" taking into account the difficulties for the visually impaired. The thought behind this process is one of putting customer service first, and adds another level to signing up to an email. The little bit of additional thought makes all the difference between a good customer experience and a great one.

In terms of the information collected there are a large number of email sign up forms out there designed to take a fair amount of personal information from the customer in order to customise emails. This would allow for a unique experience tailored to the needs of the individual if used correctly, unfortunately though this is not the case.

Out of all the emails we signed up for a very small amount came back customised. We found this remarkable as well over 50% of the sign up forms asked for our names, postcodes and numerous other pieces of personal information we had been all too happy to supply. As a response, less than 10% of those we had signed up for actually sent us personalised emails in response, this was a poor rate of return.

Immediately two questions entered our minds. Firstly, why take our information if not for a personalised email? Secondly, what did we give our information for if it was not for the purpose of email marketing?

The simple truth is we do not know the answer to either of the questions. The thought of having that information yet not taking advantage of it in a positive way seems beyond us.

The travel industry seems to be split into three fundamentally different categories. There are those, first of all, with superb emails. One example of this (a #HighFiveHero) is LowCostTravel, an internet-based discount holiday maker but one with a fantastic customer experience. In their welcome email they:

  • Addressed their customer by name.
  • Told us who they are and what we can expect to receive as a subscriber.
  • Offered an exclusive deal.
  • Offered apps and other services.

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It is a very well thought through and worded email, making us feel valued as customers yet also making sure we know as much about what to expect from the company as possible. The other two camps are those who don't customise their email, letting it be washed away in the tide of daily emails like water off a duck's back. 

Finally, the third category were those who just didn't really understand the purpose of email marketing. They did not customise, some were text based emails, some contained information that was not even relevant. This third category comprised of emails that either didn't achieve their purpose or did not define it. 

Earlier I made the bold statement that under 10% of those companies we signed up to personalised their emails. To give the exact numbers we investigated 48 of the top travel companies in the UK. Of those 48 only 3 personalised their emails. What is even more shocking is that 29% of companies did not have any form of email sign up at all, almost 1/3.

Email Status

Today there should be no excuse for not communicating with customers via email or having an email newsletter in the travel industry. Customers want to know where to go on holiday, they want to know about local news, places to visit and activities to take part in. It is a win-win situation that 29% of companies are just not engaging with. At least 65% of those who do engage in email marketing are not taking full advantage of it.

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