One of the first requests we get from a new travel agency clients is to help them import an email list into our CRM. Generally, it’s at least a few hundred contacts, but we’ve seen as many as several thousand.
Agency owners just like you want to re-engage with their customers. Think about it; if you’re selling leisure travel, most people are doing a trip once a year at most, though more likely once every few years, so it’s crucial that you stay top-of-mind for that person when they’re ready to plan their next trip.
To do that, keeping your e-mail list active and full of value is one of the best steps you can take to ensure repeat business. Otherwise, you're simply breaking up with your customer.
Consider this: after nearly losing everything in the “dot com boom”, online grocery service Fresh Direct realized that they needed to revitalize their e-mail list. At the time, CEO Richard Braddock recognized that, “The trick is to not just to get new customers… its keeping them loyal.”
On that point, management consultants Bain & Company found that customers on lists that were left dormant meant that at least 50 per cent of them were just gone forever.
A list is like your marriage; if you don't spend time nurturing it and mindfully doing nice things for it, eventually you're heading to divorce court.
So now we know what we need, but how can we get to work?
What are we going to say to these customers? Just throwing a bunch of travel product at them is not going to cut it at all.
They came to you in the first place for your service and value, so now you have to show them that value. Think of something that helps to make them a better traveller, and make your e-mail communications come from you personally. They should be able to just hit reply and start communicating with you again.
How do you send it? Use a service like Mailchimp or Constant Contact. If your e-mail list is a few years out of date, send to small segments of the list first (10 per cent at a time). See how the first 10 per cent does and if there are a lot of bounces, then you may be in trouble and its prudent to get your list revalidated from a company like BriteVerify.
How often to send? At least once per week. A once per month newsletter is just too infrequent and leads to people forgetting about you. You can probably get away with sending every two weeks, but that’s living on the edge. Check your inbox; the marketers most on top of their game are sending you e-mails every day.
Finally, e-mail is probably the most crucial thing you can do for your agency. It keeps your existing customers coming back only because you give them value. Many travel agencies make the mistake of just sending ads thinly disguised as travel deals. Give value, value and more value. Develop a personal relationship with your list. Trust us, its worth it.
Ryan McElroy is CEO & founder of The Travel Valet & Travel Agency Tribes