Email Marketing Basics That’ll Get Your Hotel Started

Open rates, ESP, data integration. . . Email marketing jargon can make this powerful channel seem intimidating. But don’t worry, we’re here to break it all down for you. Done right, email marketing drives more conversions than any other channel, so it’s time you start taking full advantage of it. No matter the size of your property, the email marketing basics covered in this post can be adapted to fit your needs and grow your business.

Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Choosing an email service provider

You’ll need to pick an email service provider (ESP)—a system through which you send your emails. If you already have a property management system (such as Base7Booking), check if this feature is included.  If not, there are plenty out there to choose from.  We recommend you test out a free ESP first, no matter your hotel’s size. Then, as your database and experience grow, explore some of the affordable options that include additional features. No matter what your needs are, you’ll find an ESP that can cater to them.

Check out the table below to compare key differences in some popular ESPs. Keep in mind that many of them offer a free trial or free usage up to a certain amount of email sends or subscribers. Be sure to consider the different billing plans, as well.

Pricing ESPs Features
Free – Mid
  • Mailchimp
  • VerticalResponse


  • Simple interface, easy to navigate for beginners
  • Easy-to-use templates
  • Schedule sends
  • Easy to import contacts and to filter send lists
  • A/B Testing
  • Tracking
  • Chat support
Mid – High
  • Campaign Monitor
  • Constant Contact
  • Emma
  • ActiveCampaign
  • More marketing automation features
  • Autoresponders
  • Accessible interface
  • Integration with some CRM system
  • Some include advanced support
  • Salesforce Marketing Cloud
  • Oracle
  • Marketo
  • Automated journeys and triggered emails
  • Fully customisable and pre-designed templates
  • In-depth analysis tracking and real-time reports
  • Complete sender deliverability management
  • API integration
  • High-volume sending


Once you’ve chosen an ESP, you’ll want to familiarise yourself with your country’s laws on customer privacy and data protection, to ensure you have your guests’ permission to contact them. Your ESP should be able to support you with this as well.

Step 2: Importing customer data

The information you keep about your guests is the basis for all your future email marketing activities—the more information you have, the better you can personalise your emails!  For starters, you’ll need to have their email addresses stored somewhere. If you want to send out a “Your Upcoming Stay” email, you’ll also need their reservation details and time of booking.

Whether you store guest data in an Excel file, in your property management system, or somewhere else, the next step is integrating it into your ESP. There are few ways in which you can easily import your data, and your ESP will be able to guide you through the steps.

Once it’s safely stored in your ESP, it’s time for you to get creative with your customer data and work it into your campaigns. This is where email marketing basics can really be fun.

Step 3: Designing and sending a snazzy campaign

To run an effective and well-timed email marketing campaign, you need to decide who to target, when best to approach them, and with what message. Your integrated customer data will help you here. For example, you could email upcoming guests a short while before their confirmed check-in date with a chance for them to upgrade their room. This simple campaign is evidence of how powerful email marketing basics can be. With it, you’d be getting your guests excited about their stay and upselling your offerings at the same time.

Segmentation is your friend. You can, for example, filter your customer database to select those living within a certain radius of your property and send them a “Weekend Escape” email. Or, use your email tracking to target recipients who consistently open and engage with your emails that promote special discounts.

We’ll take a closer look at different types of email marketing campaigns for hotels in a later post. Be sure to check back for more ideas.

Once you’ve designed your campaign, all that’s left to do is hit “Send.”

Step 4: Tracking your campaigns

The success of an email marketing campaign can be measured on different metrics, depending on what you want to determine. Basic email metrics usually provided by ESPs are:

  • Open rate: the percentage of recipients opening your email. This shows if recipients are interested in receiving emails from you and how engaging your subject line is.
  • Clickthrough rate: the percentage of recipients clicking in your email. This is how you can tell if the content of your email is powerful enough to make the reader want to click through and take the action you specified in the email.
  • Bounce rate: the percentage of recipients whose mail server rejected the email. There are various reasons why your email may bounce, spam being the most obvious, so this metric indicates if there’s a problem with your campaign or sender reputation.
  • Unsubscribe rate: the percentage of recipients who unsubscribed after receiving your email. You should monitor this metric as it indicates if users are interested in your mailings or not. If this rate increases, it’s a sign that your recipients are dissatisfied, perhaps with the content or the frequency.

But above all, you want to know the ratio of people doing what you asked in your email. For small hotels, this might be guests emailing you directly, making it easy to gauge an email marketing campaign’s success. For larger hotels, there are analytics tools such as Google. These conversions are the ultimate campaign performance indicator. They tell you which emails are working and which need to be improved upon to ensure the best return on your investment.

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