If you’re a small to medium-size travel or experience brand, the following three strategies are sure to help you increase conversions and retention rates.

If you’re a big player in the sector, take a look anyway. There might be a gap that one of these could fill or a little inspiration.

Either way, I hope you find them to be useful. 

Anniversary of booking programme

You know those customers that tend to book at a similar time of year, each year? This strategy is for them. 

Creating an anniversary of booking programme that is fully automated, enables you to build a contact and content strategy around previous bookers, to try and convert them at the time of year that they are most likely to be in the consideration phase of booking a new holiday.

The most common mistake with this strategy is when companies use the actual travel / holiday dates of the customer to define the strategy, rather than the booking date. Avoid falling into this trap and think even smarter.

What’s the typical consideration time for a customer to go from a looker to a booker? Wrap your anniversary of booking strategy around this and start your communciation strategy early.

For your most valuable customers, consider using other channels such as direct mail and even outbound telesales. Test these against each other, find a statistically significant winner, then roll it out and continue to analyse and refine the programme in a minimum of 90 day cycles.

Email / website click follow-up programme

This programme enables you to quickly follow-up email and website engagement through email, with dynamic and relevant content. Best of all, it can easily be fully automated.

This is surprisingly simple to set up and I have seen brands experience a massive uplift in incremental bookings, proving that this strategy works through split testing and control groups.

Follow-up programmes tend to work best when they are set up as a series. If you tend to think of automated strategies as a single message, change your thinking now and you’ll quickly reap the rewards.

The most common trap to fall into here, is not setting business rules for the frequency of messages that someone can receive each day/week/month.

Remember, if it’s not useful, timely and relevant to customers, you probably shouldn’t do it. 

Post-experience programme

Your customer has just arrived home after holidaying through your company. What do we do next?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is too often, ‘nothing’. I can’t think of anything else in life that can match the mostly positive emotional rollercoaster that you experience when you get back from a holiday.

The memories of the great time you had, the daily (and sometimes hourly!), recalls of “this time last week”, the visuals in your mind when you go to sleep. It is almost a part of the holiday itself, because it lasts for a long while and it’s incredibly emotional.

Typically, three things could happen:

  1. The brand does not communicate with these customers.
  2. They try to retain and drive another booking through incentives.
  3. The build an experience through marketing that extends the value of the holiday and earns loyalty.

Hopefully I don’t have to try to convince you any further, that number one is rarely an option. Doing nothing, is “hoping” that customers re-book. That’s not a strategy.

Option two can be very effective and often doesn’t always require much of an incentive to work well. A small incentive usually helps across a series of messages, sometimes across multiple channels. This is where most brands are at, so it is difficult to differentiate your proposition. 

Option three is my preferred option, which does of course depend on the brand. Travel and experience brands usually find they have to work a little harder than some other sectors, to achieve loyalty and retention. It has to be earned.

And for this reason, when brands produce a smart, useful, emotive and relevant retention programme that is so valuable it is almost considered to be a part of the product, they find the greatest success.

There you are: three automated email strategies that are simple to set up and can be vey effective.

Of course, there are many more that you could adopt – what automation programmes do you find to be the most effective?